When we think of the modern office we often think of air-conditioned havens with all the modern conveniences we come to expect of life in 2022.
Whilst modern workplaces, even offices have become in general safer and better places to work there are some areas you need to manage from a health and safety perspective.
Here we explore some of the physical health and safety risks of a modern office and what you can do to manage them.
1. Poor ergonomic and work design
We have written articles in the past on ergonomics and the important role it plays in health and safety, it cannot be overstated. Poor seating practices and desk work can lead to pain and long-term chronic conditions further down the line.
Solution: Ensure people have access to comfortable ergonomic chairs (if necessary) and are taking regular breaks from their desks.
2. Lack of ventilation
Poor ventilation can lead to airborne pollutants lingering and building up if they are brought into the office. Poor ventilation also increases the risks of diseases and bugs being spread around the office.
Solution: Ensure proper ventilation is available throughout the office and is used at the appropriate times.
3. Slips and falls
The risk of slips and falls is always present in the office but risk management procedures can be put in place to reduce the risk of them occurring and the severity if they do occur.
Solution: ensure you have a proper risk assessment document produced which looks at the risks of slips and falls in all areas of the office including flat floors and stair/walkways. Avoiding running in these areas and encouraging the use of a handrail will also help mitigate potential accidents.
4. Electrical hazards
Electrical hazards can often be present in offices with modern working stations that include laptops, chargers and power banks. If an electrical outlet becomes overloaded this can increase the risk of an electrical fire.
Solution: Ensure there is a proper risk assessment document in place and that all regular safety checks are being carried out on the equipment in the office that needs assessments. Regular checks of the fire alarms will also help in the event of an electrical fire.
5. Stacked boxes and furniture
Moving boxes can be dangerous to health if they are not lifted and manoeuvred in the proper way as this can lead to injury. Stacked boxes that rise high and contain heavy items can cause injury if the structure becomes unstable.
Solution: Adopt a risk management process of avoiding stacking boxes, furniture and other items in a precarious manner and ensure all staff are aware of how to lift heavy items safely.
6. Poor lighting
Poor lighting is a slightly more insidious issue when it comes to physical safety in some ways as it can lead to eye strain over time if workers are using screens for extended periods of time. More immediate dangers can include an increased risk of slips and falls in areas that are poorly lit as this can impact eyesight.
Solution: Ensure all areas are properly lit, both from an eye strain perspective and to mitigate against potential physical injuries.
This is not an exhaustive list of the dangers of a modern office so when developing your health and safety policy and risk assessment documents it is important to ensure you conduct it for your workplace, taking in all the nuances. This will help you to create a modern workplace that people want to work in and are as safe as possible.