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Providing health and safety in an office

  • Blog
  • 26 September 2017

Office health and safety is often overlooked in business. Many office jobs, like sitting at a desk and typing at computer, don’t seem to suggest much risk.

However, working in an office environment can present many hazards each day. If your business is based in an office, or includes an office, as a manager you have a legal responsibility to keep that environment safe for people to work in.

This blog explains what you should consider to provide good health and safety in an office.

Providing health and safety in an office

Carrying out an office risk assessment and making changes

First of all, when considering health and safety in an office, it’s important to mention that it should be included in your health and safety policy. If you employ five or more people, you have a legal obligation to have a written policy. You can learn more in our blog post, Putting a health and safety policy together.

Part of the process of putting together a policy is to carry out a risk assessment. In an office, this should involve identifying the hazards and risks across the whole office area and evaluating them, before making changes and putting processes in place to mitigate them. You can learn more in our guide to risk assessment.

Hazards and changes could include things like removing computer wires that are trailing across the floor, or placing a carpet along the floor of a slippery corridor. You should record all the information – hazards and changes you make – and keep it on file for future reference.

Creating a health and safety induction for your office staff

Many potential office hazards, which can lead to accidents and injuries, can be caused by your staff. This could include an employee:

  • Tripping over a box of files that have been left on the floor
  • Falling off a chair after using it to reach items on a high shelf
  • Causing a filing cabinet to topple over after leaving a heavy cabinet drawer wide open
  • Injuring their back after bending down to carry a heavy box of printer paper
  • Suffering a neck injury from sitting uncomfortably at a desk when working on a computer

To prevent such accidents from happening, you should put processes in place and make sure your staff follow these rules whenever working in the office.

One way to do this is to have each member of your staff complete a health and safety induction, including new employees when they join your company. This could involve them watching official videos about potential hazards in the office and how to avoid them, as well as training sessions about the safety procedures they should follow. You could also provide leaflets and display posters to remind staff about office safety.

Safety procedures for your staff to follow in the office

These could range from instructing employees to do simple things, like:

  • Shutting filing cabinet drawers after using them
  • Keeping corridor floors and doorways free from clutter
  • Using a step ladder, rather than a chair, to reach something on a high shelf

To providing them with training to follow more detailed procedures, such as:

  • Knowing how to make sure an office chair and computer screen are set at the correct height to avoid neck and back injuries when typing at a desk
  • A step-by-step process of the correct technique to bend, lift, and carry heavy items
  • The process they should follow when reporting an accident
  • Knowing what to do in the event of a fire, including training on how to use a fire extinguisher and the process of exiting the building safely

To ensure staff carry out such processes correctly, you should also provide the right equipment for them. This includes items like stepladders and adjustable office chairs, as well as an accident book to report any accidents that take place. You can learn more in our guide, Providing health and safety for your staff.

How we can help you with office health and safety

You should always ensure you provide effective health and safety, whatever company you run, whether it’s an office, shop or factory. With our expert health and safety service, we can provide you with what you need to keep you, your team and your business safe. This can allow you to focus on doing what you do best – running your business. The membership service includes:

  • Access to factsheets and documents, including accident reporting, carrying out risk assessments and manual handling
  • Online training modules
  • Round-the-clock health and safety advice, available from industry experts, on our Legal Advice Helpline

To find out more about this service and how it can help your business, please visit our FSB Health and safety Advice page. The FSB Health and Safety Service is included as standard with our Business Essentials package. Please take a look at our package comparison page to find out about other benefits of this package.

FSB Health and Safety Advice from FSB

A dedicated resource destination for Health & Safety advice and news with regularly updated documents written by Health & Safety experts.

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