Most people don’t think of office environments as high-risk workplaces, yet they contain health and safety hazards that can lead to a serious injury. The first step is to identify the hazards. After which, risk assessments should be carried out and control measures implemented. Finally, train employees to identify hazards and use the correct control measures. This will reduce the likelihood of an office injury occurring.
The most common hazards in an office environment include:
- Slip and trip hazards
- Poor ergonomics
- Inadequate lighting
- Office cleanliness
For this post, we review the Safe Work Australia Code of Practice Managing the Work Environment and Facilities to unpick the key hazards and provide strategies to reduce the likelihood of an office injury.
Keeping your work areas slip and trip free
Employees need to be able to move about the work area freely, without strain or injury and also evacuate quickly in case of an emergency. Space is important around aisles, passages and workstations.
Floor surfaces should have enough grip to prevent slipping, especially in areas that may become wet or contaminated. Common examples of hazards include trailing cables, uneven edges or broken surfaces, gratings or covers, loose mats or carpet tiles. Floors and other surfaces, such as mezzanines or platforms that people may walk on, must be strong enough to support loads placed on them.
Determining the best workstation
There should be a mix of seated and standing task. Employees should avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. Office seating should:
- provide good body support, especially for the lower back
- provide foot support, preferably with both feet flat on the floor, otherwise a footrest should be provided, and
- allow space for leg clearance and freedom of movement.
Chairs should be fully adjustable to accommodate different-sized people with seat height, back rest height and back rest tilt adjustments and should not tip or slip.
Providing adequate lighting
Lighting is important. Different lighting levels may be needed for different times of the day. Too much lighting can result in glare and too little lighting can result in office injury. To prevent low or excessive levels of lighting:
- provide extra lighting, such as a lamp on a movable arm
- change the position of existing lights
- change the location of the workstation
- increase or decrease the number of lights
- change the type of lighting used for example from white light to blue light
- change the diffusers or reflectors on existing lights, and
- use screens, visors, shields, hoods, curtains, blinds or external louvres to reduce reflections, shadows and glare.
Keep the office clean and tidy
Untidiness can lead to office injury, in particular injuries resulting from slips and trips, therefore good housekeeping practices are essential. For example:
- spills on floors should be cleaned up immediately
- walkways should be kept clear of obstructions
- work materials should be neatly stored, and
- waste should be regularly removed.
Regular hand washing is an essential part of office cleanliness and hand washing facilities must be provided to enable workers to maintain a good standard of personal hygiene. Employees need to wash their hands at different times, for example after visiting the toilet, before and after eating meals, after handling chemicals or handling greasy machinery.
Read our post on dirty offices causing more sick days.
Safety training specifically for the office
With 50% of Australian workers having jobs in an office, it’s important to not overlook the hazards in this environment in your health and safety training.
The Tap Into Safety Platform has a brand-new Office Safety training module to train employees to recognise the most common hazards in their work environment and teach the control measures to address these risks.
Using 360-degree panoramic technology the employee moves around a typical office environment spotting hazards and risky behaviours. For each hazard, employees are trained on the correct way to work around the hazard and mitigate the risk. This is followed by an assessment of the employees knowledge of the correct control measures to address each hazard.
Employees can complete this training module in under 15 minutes. Access to the Tap Into Safety training modules is available via a single URL that allows them to be easily integrated with your existing training system.
With our flexible per use ‘credits’ model pricing, you simply pay for what you use. You have immediate access to all 18 safety modules and 10 mental health modules. You can purchase any number of credits at any time, that you can use within a 12-month period, before they expire. There are no set up fees or lock in contracts.
If you are interested in trying the office safety training module or any of our other training modules please contact us today free demonstration.