Workplace health and safety is a crucial component of office environments, for both the employer and the employee. An employer can take all the precautions to ensure their workers are safe – they can implement policies and procedures, conduct training, and reduce hazards – but employees also need to take responsibility for their own safety in an office environment.
The key foundation to any safe workplace is to encourage employees to identify unsafe behaviours and situations, and identify opportunities for improvement, all while making educated decisions about their own wellbeing.
So, what are the top 10 workplace safety tips that every employee needs to know?
We have compiled them here to maximise your safe office working environment.
1. Always use the correct safety equipment.
Some tasks require the use of safety equipment, and failure to use the right equipment can result in injury. For example, if you are undertaking office cleaning with chemicals make sure to wear gloves and a protective mask to reduce the risk of inhalation or injury to your skin. Other safety equipment might include earplugs, goggles, or earmuffs, depending on the task.
2. Ergonomic backrest and support for office chairs.
Office environments can be taxing on your back, neck and shoulders. You should ensure you are using an ergonomic backrest and support while sitting at your desk. Avoid hunching your shoulders and twisting. It is ideal is to keep your shoulders in line with your hips to avoid back pain.
3. Take regular breaks.
Many workplace injuries are the result of over-exertion and can easily be avoided with regular breaks. When a worker is tired or fatigued, they are not alert, and can easily make errors that they wouldn’t make while using their best judgement. Regular breaks will keep you fresh. It can be a good idea to schedule your most challenging tasks for when you are the most alert, such as first thing in the morning, or after a break.
4. Don’t take risks.
It can be tempting to cut corners in an office, but it is important to follow the safety guidelines set out by your employer, and not take any unnecessary risks. However much you might want to stand on a chair rather than going to the other end of the building for a step ladder or lift a heavy box alone rather than asking for help, don’t do it!
5. Ensure bulky items and box are stored away and well stacked using proper storage racks and shelvings.
Clutter and bulky items can cause a significant hazard, as well as block crucial access to emergency exits. Make sure all items are stored correctly, and stacked well using storage racks and shelving. Take care to ensure your bulky items aren’t blocking pathways or switches that might need to be accessed quickly in case of an emergency.
6. Report all unsafe conditions to a supervisor.
Don’t ignore something that you think is unsafe. Report all hazards to your supervisor immediately so they can access the risk and take action. Your workplace is legally obliged to ensure the working environment is safe. Not only will you be looking out for your own best interests, but also those of your coworkers.
7. Read the manual.
Remember that manual you were handed during your induction? Read it. Even better, memorise it! This is where all the vital safety information for your role is stored, as well as all the safety policies and procedures laid out by your company. If you can’t find the information you need, ask your supervisor to clarify for you.
8. Don’t work under the influence.
Sometimes, workplace injuries are the result of an employee who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These substances affect your ability to make clear decisions and use your best judgement, so you should never come to work while intoxicated or get intoxicated in the workplace.
9. Manage stress.
Many workers suffer from workplace stress from time to time. This could be a result of overworking, insecurity in your role, or disagreements with co-workers. If you feel stressed you should talk to someone, or find a technique such as meditation to bring your stress under control.
10. Regular office air conditioner servicing for clean and hygienic air quality.
Air quality in the workplace is vital to your safety and wellbeing. Make sure there is a maintenance program in place that ensures regular air conditioner servicing for clean and hygienic air quality. The failure to clean air conditioners and vents can lead to allergy attacks and illness among employees.
At the end of the day, everyone in the office is responsible for office safety. It is in the employers role to ensure the workplace is safe, and that employees understand the safety policies and procedures.
These ten simple initiatives are a great way to make a positive difference in ensuring the overall safety of your office.