With many of the Covid-19 measures being removed on an international level, such as lockdowns and the restriction on movement and groups of people being together in one space, employers are seeking to get their workforces back in the office. While the pandemic proved that remote and hybrid models of work could ensure business continuity, certain aspects of working life were lost. Being physically distant from colleagues increases silo working in some organizations due to a lack of regular communication and the rapid sharing of ideas. While it is likely that there will always be a place for hybrid models of work as the pandemic recedes, having a physical office centre will always be favoured by employers who seek to encourage collaboration and increasingly efficient working methods. As the return to office work continues to gather momentum, it is important to consider what makes a safe office environment. This article explains the key characteristics of such a workplace.
Minimize slips, trips, and falls
An office environment tends to be safer than that of a factory as there is likely to be an absence of heavy equipment that could pose a hazard to the health of the workforce. However, no office is completely free of hazards, and steps must be taken to reduce the risk of injuries to the workforce as the result of slips, trips, and falls in the office. It is vitally important that when cleaning work is undertaken in the office, appropriate signage is placed on wet floors to indicate the danger of slipping. In winter, all pathways on the office premises should be free of snow and ice to minimize the risk of employee injuries. It is a fact that today’s world is one where employees can and do take legal action against their employers if they have been injured at work due to no fault of their own. Clearly, it is therefore imperative to take all appropriate measures to reduce the risk of slips, trips, and falls.
An often-overlooked aspect of office safety is the ventilation systems within a building. It must be recognized that it is a legal requirement for any new office building with ventilation systems to have them cleaned and disinfected before employees can work on the premises. In addition, the air quality and efficiency of the ventilation systems should be regularly monitored. Many employers ensure that they are compliant and provide safe ventilation by hiring office ductwork cleaning companies to undertake this vital work. In some respects, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of safe ventilation systems, and it is an aspect of office safety that needs to be at the forefront of employers’ minds.
As a final point, it is important to consider that office employees are able to work safely for extended periods of time at their office workstations. The height of the monitor and the seating position should be adjusted to ensure comfortable working conditions and optimum back and lumbar support. In addition, footrests should be provided for employees to allow a comfortable leg position when working at a computer. Most employers will have a dedicated health and safety team who can undertake such workstation adjustments, although it is important to realize that there is a wide range of online information that can help employees to self-assess their working position and make sure that they are sitting correctly.