Office H&S: 5 Easy Steps To Ensure Health and Safety For Your Office Workers

Saturday March 2, 2019 05:09

For many of us who work in an office, the risks and hazards are less obvious than many other work places.

How often does your chair collapse, your computer fall off your desk, or your mobile phone drop onto your toe?

Not often.

Never-the-less, your office area is part of your work place and there are hazards and risks which we need to identify, just like a factory.

One example is when you contract external workers in for repairs and service, such as plumbers, roofers, electricians or service technicians.

You are used to your workplace, but to them, it is a very different work environment to navigate.

It is your responsibility to ensure their safety whilst they are on your premises.

Step One: Update your Risk Register

List the risks encountered in your office in your organisations Risk Register.

The risks will have a lower risk rating than a roofer working on a roof, or the factory worker working on a 50-ton press. However, the risks and hazards do need to be recorded.

Did you know the 3 most common injuries in an office are:

  1. Falls and trips
  2. Injuries caused by strike of an object (eg items falling off a shelf on to you)
  3. Ergonomic injuries

Step Two: Review hazards on a regular basis

Put an automated reminder in your diary every month or two to review your office workplace with fresh eyes to help ensure that the office environment is safe.

Be sure to include:

  • Kitchen areas
  • Outdoor areas and car parks
  • Storage rooms

Step Three: Remove clutter

Clutter can build up slowly to become a large problem:

  • Clutter may build up in a walkway
    • People might get used to it, but that's not a reason to keep it there
    • It takes only a momentary lapse of concentration whilst on a phonecall to trip over
  • Clutter can fall over if stacked in a pile
  • Clutter can cause electrical hazards when piled near outlets and cords

Remove clutter to ensure that there are no trip hazards.

Step Four: Ban standing on chairs

Standing on a chair to reach high shelves, is very dangerous.

Doubly so when that chair has wheels!

If you haven't already, ensure that everyone knows that this practice is not permitted in your workplace.

Purchase a small step ladder for your team members to use.

Step Five: Remind Your Team About Ergonomics

Office work can be quite repetitive.

Neck strain is a common complaint in an office environment, especially from working with computers daily.

Use the following checklist to determine how ergonomic your team is.

See if you can answer "yes" to all 6 questions:

  1. "Those that work with a lot of paperwork beside their computer, have a document holder"
    • Document holders, when upright, near the computer screen, eliminate excessive motion and prevents muscle imbalances
  2. "Our team practices ergonomic feet position"
    • Keep your feet on the floor while seated at your desk – or use a footrest
    • If you have to jack your chair up to reach your keyboard and mouse, your desk is too high, and as a result your posture is incorrect, and pain and discomfort will result
  3. "At every desk, the mouse and keyboard are aligned"
    • Keeping the mouse and keyboard aligned will also help to reduce strain on the neck and shoulders
  4. "Our team knows to move about and stretch during the day"
    • Regular movement and having a stretch during the office working day will help your body cope with strains and pains
  5. "We have minimised slippery flooring surfaces in our office to reduce slips and falls"
    • Carpet and other skid resistant surfaces can serve to reduce slips and falls
    • Concrete and tiles can become slippery especially when wet
  6. "We store heavy items near floor level"
    • Proper storage of heavy items can help reduce the number of office injuries
    • When things are at an elevated height use a step ladder
    • If the item you need is used regularly, store it at a more accessible height so it does not need to be reached for

Did you answer "yes!" to all 6 questions? Great job.

Take action on any you weren't able to answer with a "yes".

Need more help with your ergonomics? We recommend this comprehensive guide from ACC:

The ACC "Guidelines for using computers" (100 pages, 1.76MB .pdf)

Need Further Help With Ergonomics, Or Any Other Workplace Health & Safety Issue?

Then contact your Securo Safety Consultant directly or call Securo Head Office on 0800 55 33 44, or email info@securo.co.nz.

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Image credit: ACC Guidelines for using computers.