Health and safety in the workplace begins with workplace injury prevention, which has become forefront in the workplace. This is great news for absolutely everyone. Every employee deserves to go home as healthy as when they arrived at work. Sometimes this means they need to do a little “extra” work to take care of themselves. A good employer will teach their workers how to prevent injuries and how to stay safe at work.
- Temperature and Ventilation.
Workspaces that are enclosed need to be sufficiently ventilated. Most shops and offices have air conditioning so ventilation is not usually a problem – although air conditioning introduces other issues. Everyone is different and, as such, some people are warm whilst others are cold. Specifying a standard temperature where everyone would be comfortable is impractical although it is expected that office environments should be at least 16 degrees centigrade and warehouses, or areas requiring physical activity, are 13 degrees or more. Although not often a problem in the UK, there are no maximum temperatures that need to be adhered to although most business owners will want their staff to be as comfortable as possible and productive so will take measures to reduce any high temperatures.
Lighting levels must be suitable for the work activity taking place. Where general lighting can fail, backup /emergency lighting must be provided. Overall lighting levels, known as Lux Levels, vary from activity to activity and can range from 50 lux to 800+ for close detailed precision work. The HSE advise that local controllable lighting can lead to a reduction in stress levels and an increase in job satisfaction.
All staff need their own personal space with sufficient area to work effectively and have freedom of movement. The HSE advise that sufficient space is 11 cubic meters when the floor, area behind and area above the worker is taken into consideration.
- Workstation Design and Arrangements.
If work is completed while being seated, seating needs to be provided is suitable and gives support to the lower back and legs. Reasonable adjustments should be made if the user is too short or too tall e.g. providing footrests or raising desks.
- Floors and Staircases.
Floors should be in good order with even, non-slippery surfaces. Staircases should be fitted with handrails and in many offices using handrails is now mandatory due to the number of slips, trips and falls that occur.
- Cleanliness and Housekeeping.
Workplaces should be kept clean and tidy with waste materials not allowed to build up and regularly removed. It should be possible to clean workplace environments including walls and ceilings and this takes place on a regular basis.
- Doors and Gates.
Doors and gates must be suitably constructed with appropriate safety devices and any glass meets the required BSI standards. Fire doors are to be kept closed when not in use and not propped open.
These are just seven of the main accident prevention categories. Health and Safety in the workplace do not just happen. Employers should train, teach and educate to make it happen.