In the grand scheme of things, offices are what you could consider to be the more safer of workplaces. Compared to construction sites, working with chemicals or in a dangerous environment such as off-shore, office jobs are relatively run of the mill when it comes to health and safety. But this is not to say that they are completely free of dangers and hazards. 2020 and the roaring Coronavirus crisis is perhaps the best indicator of this, sending many to work from home instead of the office. For these reasons, it is important that office workers are aware of health and safety regulations in their place of work, and that’s where we come in with this guide.
Why is office health and safety important?
Legally employers should be monitoring this but also socially and culturally, office workers themselves have a duty to recognize health and safety issues. Whilst you will normally return from the office free from issues, there are occasionally problems or accumulative minor issues can mount into bigger ones. By improving and maintaining a high standard of health and safety you gain a higher productivity in the office, protect the company’s reputation and increase its likeability and also saves money for the company whilst promoting a culture of improvement. It is rare that you will get a sudden accident within the office environment, but rather accumulative issues that stack up to have a hugely detrimental effect on workers is more of an issue in office environments from comfortable chairs – available at a reasonable price from suppliers such as Office Reality – to that little patch of mould in the corner.
It may sometimes seem trivial, physical factors such as heat of the office, ventilation and trip hazards are huge parts of office health and safety but it’s estimated 20% of employees have pulled a ‘sickie’ because their office has been too cold at some points. Additionally, ventilation is key for keeping pollutants and other harmful carcinogens out of your airways. In order to manage these risks there needs to be regular updating and maintenance within the office. From reminding workers to wear correct attire for the season, consulting them about the temperature and reminding them to remove mouldy things from the fridge, these issues need to be constantly addressed to allow for efficient health and safety management of this in the office. Additionally, trip hazards can be brutal in the office. From blocked walkways to loose wires, there are numerous trip hazards around the whole place. It is important to manage and remove any of these as best as possible. Let it be known that if you do fall over something in work you could be in for a payday, this alone should worry the employer. Regardless, it is your right to have these health and safety checks in place to allow for a much more enjoyable atmosphere which will undoubtedly be cheerier and more productive.
Office housekeeping/ biological hazards
Now more than ever office housekeeping and the risk of biological hazards is important. Not only can bacteria, fungi and bodily fluids be disgusting and dangerous at the best of times, the current pandemic has certainly heightened the awareness of these problems. Because there are so many people together in a fairly tight space which are sometimes in a fairly dilapidated condition it is not uncommon for illnesses to pass around quickly or mould to build up in the corner of the office. This could potentially have disastrous effects on the office and at the very least is fairly disgusting on a level that will undoubtedly affect office morale and productivity. This is something that everyone now needs to be aware of and is extremely important as part of a guide to office health and safety.
Whilst you have probably done some boring course on fire safety and been shown the fire procedure, you will almost certainly not be up to date with the extensive health and safety protocol regarding fire safety. But it is of the utmost importance in an office. Whilst Fire safety could bore you to death it is important knowledge and should be known by everyone in the office to allow for effective practice should you ever need to unfortunately implement it to avoid death. Knowing what are fire hazards, removing them effectively and ensuring fire safety in the office through risk assessments and training is important for any office worker and will give workers a feeling of worth. The active learning of fire safety also drives a culture of health and safety awareness rather than the more policy driven training which many never actual;ly learn from.
This list is by no means extensive and is actually fairly brief but it touches upon the main office health and safety issues that you should be aware of. By knowing these and realising what rights you have within the office, this guide has hopefully given you a tad more insight into the important world of office health and safety. It is a hugely boring subject on surface level but it does make a huge difference in terms of office atmosphere, workers productivity and efficiency in general throughout the office from top to bottom.