Preventing accidents in the office environment means following standard health and safety procedures to reduce risk to minimal levels. Here in Scotland, some of the regulations covering safety in offices include the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989, the Fire (Scotland) Act (2005) and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006), and the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended).
Accidents in the workplace happen within a matter of seconds and the Health & Safety at Work Act (HSAW) 1974 is the principal piece of legislation covering health and safety in the workplace in Great Britain. It should be noted, however, that although legislation makes requirements of employers to maintain a safe workplace, there is also substantial responsibility placed upon workers to act in a way that does not put themselves or others at risk.
Tips to help prevent accidents within the office
All employers should provide guidance and training on health and safety to employees. Within office environments, some useful tips to help prevent accidents include:
– ensuring all equipment is used in the correct manner and no risks are caused to oneself or others. For example, drinking hot or cold beverages while working at a computer or other piece of electrical equipment could cause dangers to operators if spills occur.
– leads and cables should be fitted correctly and extension leads kept to a minimum if used at all. Any trailing cables and leads should be taped to carpets or floors to ensure there is no risk of trips or falls.
– slips and trips are often the result of poor housekeeping at work and cause more than one-third of all injuries in the workplace. It’s essential that basic risk assessments are carried out on a regular basis to identify any hazards and that employees are aware that any spillages should be wiped up immediately to prevent risks of slips.
– all fixed electrical wiring installations should be inspected on a regular basis by an electrician or other competent person. This includes consumer units and circuits from meters.
– offices are considered low-risk environments for the purpose of electrical hazards, so it is not legally essential for regular PAT (portable appliance testing) to take place. Although some employers will conduct PAT testing on an obligatory basis. It is the employee’s responsibility to visually check all small electrical appliances prior to use and ensure maintenance or repair works are carried out, if necessary.
– manual handling accidents are also a common cause of workplace injuries and cause more than one-third of total injuries. Manual handling can refer to lifting, carrying, lowering, pulling or pushing of goods and products. So, it’s important that employers assess risks adequately and all employees are trained in the correct procedures for handling heavy loads and any available equipment.
When it comes to fire safety in offices, all employers should carry out fire safety risk assessments on a regular basis. It’s important that workers are aware of their responsibilities if fire alarms should sound and that fire escape routes are marked out clearly and unobstructed at all times.
You can find out more about risk assessments for the office and health and safety requirements on the Health and Safety Executive website.