Hazards in the office are rarely as obvious as those in high risk work environments. In fact, there are a range of factors with health and safety implications for office workers, that extend far beyond simple hazard identification.
Office-based work is the fastest growing form of employment.
Therefore, employers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of ergonomics in offices. Ergonomics is the study of workplace equipment design, arranging workspaces and devices so that workers can interact with things safely and efficiently.
Ergonomic considerations are vital to preventing occupational overuse injuries, which are costing businesses millions in workers compensation claims. The height of the screen, keyboard and chair are important for good ergonomics and user comfort. An adjustable monitor mount by Colebrook Bosson Saunders is an example of an ergonomic adjustment for a common workplace device.
Ergonomic furniture and equipment have proven to be successful in lowering workers compensation and health care costs. Ergonomics shows your company’s commitment to safety and health as a core value and, therefore, should be at the forefront of any workplace safety expenditure.
Workplace related mental health issues are becoming an increasingly prevalent issue.
Safe and healthy workers create a workplace which is high performing, productive and retains its valued staff. Preventing mental health hazards including workplace bullying, stressful working conditions and discrimination are therefore a key component of any workplace safety strategy.
A zero-tolerance approach to workplace bullying and enforcing regular breaks for all employees, protects and promotes the psychological health of everyone at work. The identification of physical hazards is no longer enough to ensure workplace safety, strategies must instead include psychological hazards as well.
Even the best hazard identification strategy is rendered ineffective without sufficient employee training. A focus on thorough training ensures that your workers know the safest methods of completing tasks, how to use company equipment and where important safety features and equipment are kept. Regular staff training ensures that your employees remain productive, safe and up-to date on new procedures and equipment.
Most adults spend a substantial amount of time within their workplace, having the potential to cause lasting negative effects towards their health and well-being. Factors influencing employee welfare include;
- Temperature and humidity
- Bathrooms and washing facilities
- Drinking water
- Facilities for rest and to eat meals
Workplace safety therefore involves addressing the common factors that influence the welfare of employees.
Tools and other Equipment
It is impossible to expect employees to take reasonable precautions for safety, when they have not been provided with the proper tools and equipment. Providing your employees with the right tools demonstrates that you value worker safety, and increases productivity and the quality of your work product.
Workplace Health and Safety Culture
It takes teamwork to prevent workplace accidents.
Therefore, a safety culture is one that places a high level of importance on safety beliefs, values and attitudes. A workplace which emphasizes health and safety culture, encourages workers to speak up about unsafe conditions and ensure that they are remedied in a timely manner. It is the duty of business owners and facility managers to encourage employees to comply with workplace safety efforts, and to become active participants in the process.
Developing positive behaviours and encouraging open and informed conversations, ensures an environment where it is OK for anyone to challenge unsafe behaviours and attitudes. Understanding what influences the culture of your organisation can make a significant contribution to changing employee attitudes and behaviours in relation to workplace health and safety. A positive safety culture can result in improved workplace health and overall organisational performance.
Workplace safety goes well beyond simple hazard identification.
Every person who leaves for work should expect to return home in good health, both physically and mentally. Having a comprehensive view toward workplace safety ensures the wellbeing of all workers.
Bio: Laura Costello is in her final year of a Bachelor of Law/International Relations at Latrobe University. She is passionate about the law, the power of social media, and the ability to translate her knowledge of both common and complex topics to readers across a variety of mediums, in a way that is easy to understand.