The Basics Of Health And Safety In The Office

June 15th, 2017

Managing the health and safety in the office can seem very costly, time-consuming, and even complicated. But it is easier than most people think. Setting up the right procedures to prevent any accidents or injuries to your employees can go a long way towards improving the overall productivity of the business. In most cases, this will involve a series of basic practical tasks that not only protect people from harm, but also secure the future growth and success of your business. It is important to note that health and safety policies apply to all work places. In addition, both employers and employees are responsible for implementing health and safety in the workplace for everyone’s benefit.

The approach you take will depend on the size and nature of your business. Since most office hours are spent sitting down, it is particularly important to have proper ergonomic office chairs to minimise back problems. Standing desks can also provide a long-term solution to sitting-related issues like back pain.

With that in mind, here we will discus 8 basics of health and safety in the office.

Health And Safety In The Office

1. Ventilation

It is important to ensure that your office is well-ventilated. This basically involves installing an effective ventilation system or maintaining a regular supply of clean, fresh air. This will go a long way towards preventing the spread of contagious diseases among workers, and subsequently reduce the frequency of employee absences. Poor air quality can lead to serious health implications, with symptoms such as hoarseness & wheezing, coughs, airway infections, sleepiness, headache, mental fatigue, rashes, dry skin, dizziness, nausea, and irritations of the eyes, throat, and nose. According to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations of 1992, you are also required to get rid of any excess contaminants in the workplace, from simple debris to harmful fumes.

2. Reasonable Temperature

Your work space should have a reasonable temperature at all times. When your office is too hot or too cold, it can be rather uncomfortable to some of your employees. Ensure that the temperature is set at a level that is suitable for everyone. While there is no law dictating the ideal minimum or maximum temperature, most people generally agree that 16 degree Celsius is the best setting in a workplace. However, an office environment may call for a slightly higher temperature.

3. Good lighting

The importance of a good lighting in a workplace cannot be overstated. A poorly lit work space could significantly affect your employees’ health and moods, and ultimately comprise their ability to perform well on the job. In fact, studies have shown that working in an office that is too dim or too bright can lead to physical problems such as fatigue, headaches, and eyestrain. You can avoid these issues by ensuring that all your workstations have sufficient light. You could also provide your employees with individual desk lamps to complement the overhead light.

4. Tidy Wires

Untamed wires in the workplace can be hazardous. As such, always ensure that all telephone wires, computer cables, and other trailing cords are sorted away. There are several tools you can use to organise unruly wires. For instance, you could use plastic ties to group the wires together or fix a cable tray below each workstation. Additionally, you could consider investing in desks with integral cable management systems, like inbuilt wire ports.

5. Clear Walkways

The Health and Safety Executive attributes obstructed walkways to most of the trips that take place in the workplace. Your office should be safe enough for the staff members to move around without jeopardising their well-being. This basically means ensuring that the passageways are clear all the time. Encourage everyone to adopt the “see it, sort it” mentality where if anyone sees an obstructed walkway, they report the issue to someone of seniority or fix the problem themselves. Having an effective cleaning regime can also help ensure that your walkways are neat and clear every time.

6. Comfortable Workstations

Comfortable workstations are essential, especially if workers are expected to sit in the same place for long periods of time. Therefore, it is important to equip every staff member with suitable office furniture, such as a desk and a supportive and adjustable chair. Another important thing to consider is how the space is organised. For instance, computer screens should be positioned at eye level and placed about an arm’s length away. The keyboard and mouse, on the other hand, should be placed in close proximity to make it easier for the worker to use interchangeably.

7. Incorporate Proper First Aid Arrangements

Any safe workplace should have proper first aid arrangements. In case an employee is injured or falls sick while working, there should be a process in place to ensure that they are looked after and receive medical attention as soon as possible. Accidents can occur anywhere, even in an office setting, so it is important to be fully prepared. At the very least, you should have a suitably packed first aid box in the workplace, as well as a designated person to take responsibility. A qualified first-aider could come in handy. If necessary, you could sponsor one member of the staff for approved training to get certified in first aid. Health and safety procedures in the workplace are diverse. However, the points above should be enough to cover the basics and help you understand how you can convert your office into a safe, fun, and healthy environment for everyone.

8. Provide Enough Welfare Facilities

It is important to pay attention to your workers’ happiness and well-being. One way you can do this is by providing them with the basic amenities that will make their hours in the workplace more comfortable. For instance, there should be working toilets and hand basins at work, as well as soap and hand dryers or towels. Furthermore, your personnel should have access to a place where they can eat their meals and rest, such as a breakout area or kitchen, in addition to safe, clean drinking water. In some cases, it may be necessary to have somewhere the workers can store their belongings like clothing, bags, and coats if there is a special uniform involved. Of course, this should come with a private area for the staff to get changed.