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A step by step guide for managing occupational health and safety hazards in the office

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Occupation health and safety, or occupational health and safety is one of the most important things for a business to focus on. Ensuring that your employees and visitors to your office, worksite or venue are safe and protected from hazards is a hugely important thing and something that business owners cannot avoid. There is plenty of legislation in place to help businesses to manage their occupational health and safety requirements, but today I wanted to look at how to manage the potential hazards that can arise in the workplace — specifically, the office. After all, almost every kind of business – from commercial plumbers in Melbourne to florists in Sydney – has some form of office-based work, whether it’s data processing or information technology. Plus, flexible working conditions has provoked a notable shift in the traditional working environment. As such, the occupational health and safety practices need to evolve in order to keep up with these rapid changes. Let’s take a look.

Step One – Risk management

The overarching aim of occupational health and safety management is to get rid of or at the very least greatly reduce the risk of illness or injury stemming from work. When you look to manage the health and safety in an office space, you’re going to be working the process of identifying hazards and assessing the risk of these hazards occurring. The management of any kind of risk is always an ongoing practice, as the work environment changes, creating further potential risks. You need to consult with employees and have ongoing communication between employees and employers to identify risks. Every employee needs to be trained in risk management which should cover:

  • What is a hazard in the workplace
  • The health and safety legalities
  • How to identify a hazard and risk
  • How to report a hazard or risk
  • Likely causes of hazards
  • Safe work practices

Step Two – Hazard identification

When thinking about the potential hazards in the office, you need to think broadly about all of the potential things that can cause problems. Things like:

  • Mechanical hazards (a filing cabinet that could tip over when a heavy top drawer is opened)
  • Physical hazards (a hot component from a photocopier, a poorly designed chair that doesn’t provide adequate support for your back)
  • Chemical hazards (things like insect sprays or photocopier toner)
  • Psychological hazards (stress from performing an excessive workload under pressure)
  • Electrical hazards (a risk of shock due to an overloaded power point)

Every single one of these types of hazards needs to be something that everyone is aware of and understands. In every state, workplaces are required to keep a record of every risk and the potential risk that occurs and your workplace should have a system and use the data to identify potential patterns and areas of concern.

Step Three – Hazard management

Perform a frequent walk-through of your office and make sure you take the hazard checklist with you to identify the potential risks. Speak to employees and ensure that you provide a good platform for managing hazards. Your focus should always be on removing or decreasing the risk of potential hazards, so keep this in the front of your mind.

Ultimately, managing your occupational health and safety in the office requires dedication and time devoted to managing it. If you always ensure that you are vigilant about it, you won’t experience any risk incidents. Consult with the various requirements in your state and industry and be sure to provide proper training to every new employee to ensure that no one falls behind.

Image: Gino Santa Maria/Shutterstock.com