‘Safety first’ is the defining concept and action item when school-age children visit work environments. Take some tips from Xerox.

By Sherry M. Adler, Xerox contributor

School-age children enjoy seeing a parent’s work environment and learning about career opportunities and options. Parents enjoy ‘Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day’ too.

Word games, knowledge quizzes, role playing, product/service demonstrations ─ there's lots to do.

Word games, knowledge quizzes, role playing, product/service demonstrations ─ there’s lots to do.

With that said, there’s a “but” to consider, explains Steve Drago, manager, Workplace Health & Safety for Xerox. “Business venues are designed for adults,” he says. “These locations can be precarious for children from a safety perspective. This is the case for industrial facilities with diverse settings, such as laboratories, production lines and warehouses. Even call centers and offices with workstations pose potential hazards.”

How do you make this day safe, meaningful and joyful for children? Steve offers six principles.

#1    Stay Clear
Certain operations and areas must be off limits. The list includes loading docks and testing sites, which inherently are unsuited for children. Customer/client spaces fall into this category too for other reasons. Steve comments: “There’s no way around this. Put a full restriction on entering these spaces. We don’t want to stifle this opportunity, but safety is a top priority. These considerations come first.”

#2    Be Prepared
If your child requires daily medication or has allergies, bring enough medication for the entire day. Should you or your child require medical attention, use the designated emergency number for your location.

#3    Escort
Accompany children everywhere that day. If parents can’t do that for blocks of time, assign a “designated escort.” Team up with others. Discuss this issue with event coordinators and plan the day accordingly. Getting this set beforehand makes this day a better occasion for all. And, by the way, ensure young visitors wear appropriate footwear, such as shoes or sneakers.

#4    Balance Needs
Intertwine the objectives of the event with the needs of work. ‘Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day’ occurs once a year. But business must go on as usual that day too. “Planning the event and addressing this issue ahead of time makes all the difference,” says Steve. “Respect those who are conducting business. And be mindful not to disrupt work that has to be done.”

#5    Create Sweet Spots …  Have Fun Here!
Here’s the way to achieve all of the above. It’s the fun part too. Choose places for activities. Coordinate this with event planners and facility personnel. Put up signs with hours of occupancy. Use training or conference rooms, auditoriums, large offices, lunchrooms and outdoor patios, where groups of children and “project leaders” can socialize and do “stuff.”  Word games, knowledge quizzes, role playing, product/service demonstrations ─ there’s lots to do. For ideas, check out activity guides from The Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation.

#6    Plan and Share
Perhaps planning already has appeared in these principles. But it’s worth mentioning yet again. “Work in advance with your safety personnel. Get pre-approval for activities, and ask them for ideas and support. They know the safeguards and will help ensure everyone stays out of harm’s way and has a great day,” advises Steve. He offers a parting thought: “This is a special time for everyone. Stay alert and collaborate. On this day, we all, in essence, become parents.”