Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, you have a legal duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of your employees. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) require you to assess and control risks to protect your employees.
As part of our fit-out services we are often asked to draw on our experience and expertise when it comes to ensuring workspaces comply with building standards, health and safety, disabled access, fire prevention and overall workplace safety. This article goes some way to detailing those items you should be checking to ensure workplace safety.
Lighting in the workplace is vital. Using natural light wherever possible is the best solution but where natural lighting is not available then other forms of lighting should be used to ensure a good level of light in the office and at workstations.
You should also make sure there are suitable forms of emergency lighting and stairs and corridors are also well-lit.
Temperature and Ventilation
All UK employers are required to ensure that there is a reasonable working temperature within workplaces inside buildings (usually at least 16 °C, or 13 °C for strenuous work, unless it is impractical to do so, e.g. in the food industry). Where a comfortable temperature cannot be maintained in each workspace local heating or cooling should be supplied. Thermometers should be provided so the temperature can be checked.
In addition all enclosed workplaces need to be sufficiently ventilated, in order to provide a healthy working environment. The air supply rate for the workplace should not fall below 5 – 8ltrs per second, per occupant. Ventilation systems should be regularly maintained to make sure they are working efficiently and effectively.
There should be no impediments to staff being able to move around. This includes disabled staff who maybe wheel-chair bound.
There should be enough space between and around desks so that people can move without banging into desks and chairs or other furniture.
Check that floors are even with no snagging points. Where there are carpet tiles make sure they are level and replace any that are worn. In areas where liquids are being used e.g. kitchen facilities use floors and surfaces which are not slippery.
Trailing wires are a common hazard in the office and can lead to accidents. In many cases as businesses grow and expand and need more computers and other equipment cabling can get out of control resulting in unsafe cabling. It’s therefore important to make sure that any wires are secured out of the way to ensure no one can trip over them or accidentally pull them out of equipment. As an experienced refurbishment company we can offer advice on future proofing and keeping cabling tidy in your office space.
Use storage for paperwork, files and folders but don’t over stack shelves or storage units.
Bags and coats should also be stored out of the way, so people cannot trip over them.
Display Screen Equipment
Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 applies to anyone who uses DSE for a significant part of their normal work i.e. daily or for continuous periods of an hour or more.
Workstations need to be checked to ensure they are setup correctly (desks and chairs are at the right height, positioning of the keyboard and mouse is the screen free from glare and reflections etc.). The Health and Safety Executive provide a DSE workstation checklist which can be very helpful.
Make sure fire exits are clearly signposted and free of any clutter. It’s surprising how often fire exits become blocked with boxes or other miscellaneous office sundries and when there’s an emergency you won’t have time to clear a path to the fire exit.
Have electrical equipment tested regularly and at least once a year. Don’t overload electrical sockets. Have fire extinguishers available and know how to use them in the event of a fire unless you are advised to evacuate.
Keeping your workspace clean is important. Desks and equipment should be cleaned. Containers for waste materials should be provided and refuse removed regularly. Any spills should also be cleaned up promptly.
Food and Drink
Food and drink should be consumed away from work stations to avoid spillages which could result in the shorting-circuiting of electrical equipment or in food crumbs becoming lodged within keyboards. Encourage staff to move to break out areas or other areas specifically setup for them to have their breaks or lunch.
You must provide fresh drinking water as well as toilets and hand basins, with hot and cold or warm running water, soap and towels or another suitable means of drying. In some cases you will also need to provide showers for dirty work.
If your new year’s resolution is to look at your workplace safety and how your office space measures up to its health and safety requirements and to take action to correct any issues contact JBH Refurbishments on 0333 207 0339 or contact us via our contact form. We are experts in office fit-outs and as part of that service we can advise you on building standards, health and safety, disabled access and fire prevention.