Health and safety in the workplace is an enormously important thing that you must keep in mind when you make decisions about the layout and design of your office. Every day, there are employees getting injured and becoming ill because of poor health and safety practice. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that between 2014/15 and 2015/16, 614,000 workers were injured on the job and 521,000 became ill because of work.
Wrangle those wires
When you’re setting up your office for the first time, it can be tempting to set up all the desktops and then get right to work on them without thinking about the wires. Having them snake across the floor is a recipe for tripping and legal action.
Invest in wire ties. With these little beauties you can collect and group your wires into neat little bundles. Also, label your cables for enormous quality of life improvements for when you are replacing hardware or moving office.
Once you’ve cleared the wires away, you might as well banish the rest of the clutter and trip hazards from the floor. HSE estimates that there were 111,000 cases of slipping, tripping or falling on the same level, making it the second largest factor behind non-fatal workplace injuries. Boxes, packaging and other random things in your office’s walkways are a sure-fire way to annoy and injure your colleagues. Encourage your employees to use the handily located bins around the office.
Rugs pose another tripping and slipping hazard. To prevent slipping, make sure that something heavy weighs them down and prevents them from moving when they are walked on.
Between 2006 and 2017, there were 3615 new claims for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in the UK. Everything can be made ergonomic; keyboards, mice, office chairs, desks. Desk workers have to years of their life at a desk, so the least the equipment could do is not give them a medical condition. Splashing out on better equipment now will save you money later on lost work hours from ill employees.
Practice safe stacking
Large stacks of paper or equipment are never recommended, given how untidy they make your office look and how difficult they make finding important documents. You have filing cabinets for a reason. Stacks are not known for their structural integrity and the higher it is, the more dangerous to employees it becomes. The same goes for heavy objects chucked up on shelves and on top of cupboards – an accident waiting to happen.
A huge area of health and safety which thankfully doesn’t claim many lives in the grand scheme of workplace accidents, but one that has the potential for widespread destruction. Keep walkways and fire doors clear, while making sure that fire doors are not propped open. Make sure sprinklers and alarm systems are working. Ensure that fire extinguishers are kept in good working condition.
If your office has any space heaters, then inspect them and ensure that they are verified and approved for commercial use. Do not power them with extension cords because they can overload the circuit or overheat the cord, leading to fire. Keep them away from water and do not put flammable material in close proximity to them.
Your employees throwing punches at each other may not seem like a plausible scenario, but workplace stress and bullying can build up into a nasty cocktail. The HSE estimates that there were 41000 cases of acts of violence/physical assault reported over the 2014/15-2016/17 period.
Make sure you have a clear, zero tolerance policy on bullying, harassment and violence. Ensure you have a robust HR department for employees to go to with their problems, whether it is in-house or outsourced. Keep an eye on your team so that you can spot signs of tension before they erupt.
Review and retrain
Accidents happen because old habits are allowed to creep back in and employees become complacent. To prevent this, make sure your employees are regularly refreshed on all areas of health and safety. This will stop the office descending back into a state of dangerous chaos a few months after health and safety training.