Today’s offices are no longer just clusters of cubicles where employees mechanically punch in hours. They’re vibrant, dynamic spaces that influence, and are influenced by those who occupy them. In this article we’ll provide some tips and actionable insights on ‘office safety’ and how you can take some positive steps to improving the office environment.
Office safety is expanding to not just include the physical well-being of staff but also to their psychological and emotional health. Let’s delve into the diverse dimensions of office safety and what you can do to get office safety under control.
Ergonomics- The Core of Comfort
At the heart of office safety is ergonomics — the study of optimising workspaces to fit the needs and capabilities of the worker. But it’s more than just adjustable chairs and standing desks.
- Adopt adjustable furniture, ensuring chairs support the lumbar region and screens are at eye level.
- Consider issues like how long workers are spending at their workstations and how they feel at the end of the shifts. Ensuring that your team are up and stretching frequently can help mitigate long term injuries to backs, necks, and shoulders.
Consistent ergonomic evaluations can lead to an office where discomfort and strain are rare, safeguarding against musculoskeletal issues that often arise from improper posture. You might like to ask the question through a staff survey or check that new starters know how to setup their workstations to mitigate effects of poor postures.
Decluttering-A Clear Path to Office Safety
Clutter is more than an eyesore; it’s ultimately a safety hazard that can contribute to a range of workplace accidents.
Schedule regular clear-outs, ensuring walkways are free from obstructions. Try and ensure that your team has at least 1200 mm walkways to move freely when there’s an emergency. Always check with local fire regulations to make sure your aisle ways are safe for your specific workplace.
Recognise that clutter isn’t just physical. Digital clutter, like excessive notifications or unorganised emails, can be equally disruptive, leading to undue stress on workers. Consider that cluttering can occur in many different ways.
Electrical Safeguarding – Powering Safety
With numerous electrical devices and appliances, electrical safety becomes paramount in an office. Electric shock can kill, or electricity can be a source of fires if not managed and inspected regularly.
Utilise Residual Current Devices (RCDs) on main distribution boards to prevent electric shocks. RCD’s cut out if an electric shock event is detected.
- Regular inspections through testing and tagging can identify frayed cables, overloaded sockets, and other hazards. Being proactive can deter potential mishaps, emphasising the importance of routine checks.
- Thermal camera inspections of electrical enclosures can identify fire safety issues like increased termination heating before it results in fire.
Office Lighting – Illuminating Safety and Well-being
Lighting plays a crucial role in both productivity and office safety.
Ensure spaces have adequate lighting, reducing strain on eyes. You may need to measure lighting levels to ensure that they meet applicable standards and regulatory requirements.
Natural light can boost mood, morale, and productivity, so make the most of windows and open spaces.
Equipment Mastery- Using and Maintaining Devices Safely
From copiers to computers, equipment safety is crucial.
Regularly service machines and offer training sessions on their safe usage. We’ve seen some nasty injuries in the past from office guillotines and simple hole punches. BTW Heavy duty electric staplers can also cause some nasty wounds. Ensure that you know your machinery and staff are trained in its use.
Many office accidents result from misuse or malfunction of equipment. (things like people in the office taping safety switches in the on position). Preventative maintenance can be a game-changer and identify these issues before injuries occur.
Fires and Emergencies -Beyond the Basics
While the term “fire safety” often evokes images of extinguishers and alarms, there’s much more depth to this facet of office safety. Fires in an office environment can be catastrophic, not just because of the immediate danger they pose to human life but also because of the potential business impacts. The destruction of vital documents, loss of equipment, and even downtime due to office repairs can have long-lasting consequences.
- Every office should have an emergency plan in place, which includes clear evacuation routes, designated assembly points, and regular fire drills.
- Create an ‘Emergency Kit’ containing necessities like torches, first-aid materials, bottled water, and backup power solutions.
- Beyond the basic fire-fighting equipment, it’s crucial to invest in fire-resistant storage for crucial documents. Fire doors can contain the spread, and automated sprinkler systems can minimize damage.
- Emergencies aren’t restricted to fires. From power outages to natural disasters, offices need to be prepared for a range of unforeseen events.
- Regular training sessions to familiarize employees with various emergency protocols are crucial. This ensures not just individual safety but also the protection of company assets. Scenario-based training, where employees are taught to handle specific emergencies like earthquakes or floods, can be invaluable.
- Lastly, post-emergency debriefs are essential. These sessions allow teams to discuss what went well and where improvements are needed. Feedback can lead to revised protocols, ensuring that if another emergency does strike, the office is even better prepared.
Hazardous Chemicals-Unseen Dangers in the Office
While an office may not seem like a place for hazardous materials, threats can lurk in unexpected places.
Keep a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for every product and understand if there are any health impacts from the products that you use. Focus around high risk items like known carcinogens.
Cleaning supplies, certain inks, and even some air fresheners can pose health risks. Always opt for green alternatives when possible.
Fresh Air, Fresh Minds- Prioritising Air Quality
Good air quality is vital for health and productivity that’s why it is one of the core pillars of office safety.
Ensure regular circulation of fresh air and consider (where appropriate) adding indoor plants that naturally purify the air.
Modern building air conditioner units can sometimes be problematic in that they may not have adequate fresh air make in the distributed air. This can lead to a build-up of pollutants. Regular air quality checks can pre-empt this.
Manual Handling- Safety in Lifting and Moving
Handling objects is a routine task in offices, but it comes with its own set of risks.
Train staff on how to use lifting or manual handling equipment. Ensure that all staff know safe lifting techniques, emphasising the importance of lifting from the knees, not the back.
Many office injuries result from improper manual handling. Simple preventative measures can mitigate this.
Call Centres- Unique Environments, Unique Challenges
The high-paced environment of call centres brings its own set of work safety challenges.
Prioritise ergonomics, consider noise-cancelling headphones to reduce ambient noise, sound spike filters and encourage regular short breaks.
The continuous nature of call centre work can lead to repetitive strain injuries and mental fatigue. Regular pauses and ergonomic interventions can be immensely beneficial.
Mental Health: The Silent Dimension of Office Safety
Mental well-being is an intrinsic part of overall office safety.
Create open dialogues about mental health, offer resources, and ensure workloads are manageable.
A supportive environment and well trained supervisory staff can reduce work-related stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Prioritizing mental well-being enhances overall productivity and harmony.
In the quest for holistic office safety, every facet, from the tangible to the intangible, matters. While individual efforts and organisational policies are pivotal, external expertise in the form of safety consultants can provide an invaluable perspective.
Safety consultants like Safetysure bring a wealth of knowledge gained through many years work in the work safety discipline, ensuring that businesses remain compliant with safety regulations and are proactive in their safety approaches.
Risk assessments, custom solutions, training sessions, and continuous improvement are just some areas where safety consultants can shine in your office.
Our objective perspective and specialised knowledge make them indispensable allies in the pursuit of office safety. Through combined efforts, an office can be more than just a workspace—it can be a sanctuary of work safety, efficiency, and well-being.
For businesses striving for an in-depth, comprehensive approach to safety, hiring a safety consultant can be a game-changer. These specialists bring with them a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and an external perspective that can prove invaluable. Here’s how they can be of paramount significance:
- Risk Assessment- A safety consultant can objectively assess an office environment, identify potential risks, and provide actionable recommendations to mitigate them.
- Custom Solutions- Recognising the unique challenges of each workplace, safety consultants offer tailored solutions that align with the business’s specific needs.
- Training and Workshops-They can conduct training sessions, educating employees on best practices, emergency protocols, and the importance of safety measures.
- Regulatory Compliance- Good safety consultants stay updated with the latest safety regulations and standards, ensuring that businesses adhere to these, thus avoiding potential legal complications
- Continuous Improvement- By analysing incident reports and feedback, they provide insights into areas of improvement, ensuring that the office environment continually evolves towards optimal safety.
If you need help in improving Office Safety, call Safetysure on 1300 087 888 or email us on email@example.com