Wednesday 9 August 2017

Keeping Yourself Safe at Work - In The Office

Work Safety Image from Shutterstock

Do you know how to keep yourself safe when you are at work?

It might seem a strange question if you work in an office as you're wondering what can possibly go wrong but having worked the last ten years before moving to East Sussex in a very busy HR department of a large University I can honestly tell you how important it is to ensure your work space is safe and efficient.

We were very lucky at the University as we had an Occupational Health Department and Health and Safety department so when you started a new job with the Uni, you were met at your desk by a trainer assessor to review your work space and ensure it worked for you. These two departments worked really closely with us in HR to ensure if any ill health or accidents did come about in the workplace we could be immediately responsive.

Of course this is a luxury and doesn't happen in most offices, especially small ones like I'm currently working in. We have six of us all along a window in a fairly small space and we have to be quite careful not to be tripping over each other and our equipment.

Given the amount of people who are working in offices without the support of specialist trained staff I thought it would be useful to share some tips for keeping yourself safe at work in your office environment -

  1. Never use electrical extension cables plugged into multi-plugs or each other, the last thing you want is a surge and your PC to blow!
  2. Make sure there are no trailing wires across the office, you can easily buy plastic wire covers
  3. Ensure the office stays clutter free. When you finish with files make sure the boxes are moved for storage straight away
  4. If you need to reach something high make sure you use a stepladder or stool (made for this purpose) to stand on. never be tempted to use your office chair as it may just roll away from under you!
  5. When you finish getting something from the filing cabinet, make sure you shut the door. Most have a mechanism to ensure you can only open one drawer at a time but if that is broken and you open a few, you risk the whole cabinet falling onto you.
  6. Ask for your work space to be assessed to ensure it is ergonomically suitable for you. All equipment should be adjustable, chairs, monitors etc and your feet should remain firmly on the floor when you are working.
  7. Take regular breaks from working at your computer to ensure you minimise the risk of eye-strain and RSI
  8. Use a computer with anti-glare protection already built-in or buy a cheap anti-glare screen cover to protect your eyes
  9. If you get wrist or hand ache from typing for long periods invest in an ergonomic wrist support and mousepad
  10. If you need to pick up large or bulky items make sure you have received manual handling training and always remember to bend at the knees, not from the waist
  11. This might seem obvious but when moving around the office make sure you can see where you are going. Don't stack up things so high that you can't see over them and certainly don't be reading as you walk around.
  12. If you have a spill make sure it is cleared up straight away and not left for someone else to slip on
  13. Also do not touch anything electrical whilst your hands are wet
  14. According to UK law we all have a responsibility for Health and Safety in the workplace and as such as soon as you see something you feel is wrong or hazardous it is your responsibility to report it to your manager or the appropriate staff member. 
  15. There should be regular fire drills conducted at your workplace so that in the event of a real fire you all know what to do. If you have been inducted in the fire procedures at your work or been involved in a drill then raise this with your manager.
Also have a look at the excellent interactive graphic over on Accident Advice Helpline where you can find the statistics of how frequently the kind of accidents I've mentioned above are occurring.

Of course there are always many more factors to consider but if you manage to follow all these you'll be doing pretty well and protecting yourself at work.

Have a great day tomorrow! Mich x

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