The topic of office safety commonly brings to mind workplaces with tools and heavy machinery however, injuries and accidents can easily occur in any office setting. In fact, employers in all industries are required to provide their employees with a safe and hazard-free work environment – although what that looks like will vary according to industry.
So, what types of office safety topics do employers need to consider and why is office safety important in the first place?
This article will look at:
- What exactly is office safety?
- Why is it important?
- How to maximize safety in the workplace
What is Office Safety?
Office safety refers to the concept of controlling known hazards within the workplace in order to keep employees healthy and safe. It is an employer’s job to help prevent accidents and injuries by controlling recognized hazards. While it’s not possible to eliminate all risk, the level should be a reasonable amount and any hazard that can be controlled should be in order to prevent injury.
In addition to physical threats, safety in the workplace also includes psychological safety. For instance, employees should not be afraid that they will be discriminated against based on race, religion, gender, etc. or ridiculed for their ideas and opinions. It’s important to not overlook the psychological hazards as often times these dangers are hidden away or take place covertly.
Why is Office Safety and Health Important?
First and foremost, providing a safe and healthy work environment for employees is a legal obligation for employers. Organizations in many countries are established in order to uphold this standard and ensure that employers are doing their part to provide a safe working environment. In fact, in some places, a specific plan must be established by employers, with this requirement being enforced by local organizations.
Health and safety is also important from a moral perspective – providing a safe work environment is the right thing to do. As well, injuries and accidents can be costly to both employers and employees. The office environment must be well prepared to prevent any
Ensuring office safety promotes wellness and health in employees and prevents the high monetary costs associated with accidents and illness in the workplace, such as medical costs, insurance costs, damage to equipment and property and even absenteeism and lost time. For employees and their families, psychological costs and losses to quality of life can be diminished by providing a safe workplace.
Overall, a safe and healthy workplace fosters a positive work environment in your office that is good for both employees and employers.
How to Maximize Office Safety
Having a plan in place can be very helpful in ensuring a safe workplace. In addition to safety briefings in the office and an office safety moment weekly or biweekly as a refresher, there’s a plurality of other things that have to be taken notice of in the office to ensure a contingency plan is in place. In order to maximize safety in your office, an employer should focus on the following safety tips:
1. Communicate a plan
Once a plan has been developed, employers should communicate their plan to employees. It’s important that employees are aware of what their employer will do to protect them from workplace hazards as well as what is expected of them.
2. Employee discrimination
Employees should not be discriminated against based on their age, race, disability, etc. Managers and other employees should be educated about discrimination and its forms in order to ensure it does not occur in the workplace.
3. Ergonomic practices
All employees should receive training on good ergonomic practices and should be provided with proper equipment in order to be able to complete their work in a comfortable and safe manner. Employees should also be provided with an assessment of their work station, in order to evaluate any ergonomic issues.
4. Noise pollution
In many industries (even office work, in some instances) noise pollution can be high. Minimizing noise pollution as much as possible, and providing proper protective equipment where necessary, is important for health, safety and productivity.
Employees should be encouraged to keep their workplace tidy and free from any hazards, such as cords, spills, etc. They should be provided with any and all equipment, tools and storage necessary to maintain an area free of clutter and visible hazards. Communal areas should also be kept free of debris and clutter in order to avoid injuries.
A clutter-free office is also conducive to a positive work environment. It’s important to remind employees of these safety tips so they can tidy up their workspace and take the matter into their own hands as well.
6. Emergency planning
Employers should have a comprehensive fire and emergency plan in place. Employees should be familiar with this plan and should experience some training in order to ensure that they are clear on the process in case of fire or an emergency.
In some industries, fire and emergency plans may be more extensive and require further training. For example, industries that require employees to work with flammable materials. Depending on the industry and the office, emergency plannings safety tips might need to be refreshed and reiterated upon every few weeks or months.
Someone with medical training (e.g. first aid) should always be available to employees – especially in industries where the possibility of injury is high. First aid training for all employees may also be helpful in order to help minimize any accident that does occur. A first aid kit should also be readily available to all employees.
8. On-the-job training
All employees require on-the-job training and safety training is no exception. Employees should be trained on safe work procedures and should be monitored to ensure they are adhering to safe work policies.
9. Make inspections
Tools, equipment and workspaces should be inspected regularly in order to ensure everything is safe to use and free from clutter and visible hazards. Employees may also need to be trained on how to conduct inspections and identify hazards.
10. Open Communication
Employers should hold regular health and safety meetings where employees can discuss policies and practices, ask questions and express any concerns they may have. Employees should be encouraged to participate in these meetings, to share their ideas for improvements to the company’s plan and to offer ideas for additional office safety meeting topics.
Key Takeaways On Office Safety
A health and safety plan, along with safety training, is very important for your office to employ. Employees should be aware of exactly what the health and safety plan entails and should be trained in order to help minimize the risk of injury and illness.
Focusing on providing a safe and healthy work environment benefits both employers and employees by minimizing financial, as well as physical and psychological costs. Safety tips are important, but it’s more important to be proactive instead of reactive and have a contingency plan in place.
The top 10 health and safety topics to focus on in order to establish a safe workplace include:
- Creating and communicating a health and safety plan with employees
- Eliminating employee discrimination and ensuring all employees are educated on the topic
- Establishing ergonomic best practices and ensuring employees are provided with an ergonomically sound workstation
- Minimizing noise pollution and providing protective equipment where necessary
- Eliminating clutter and other visible workplace hazards
- Providing a sound emergency plan and educating employees on this plan
- Providing medical training and supplies
- Providing proper on-the-job safety training
- Making regular inspections of the workplace in order to ensure a safe environment and that safety measures are being adhered to
- Holding regular health and safety meetings and encouraging open communication about safety in the workplace
With these topics and office safety training ideas in mind, you can create a strong workplace safety plan that will help protect your employees and organization from the negative effects of injuries and illness in the workplace.