By | Louise Marie
As a business owner, apart from overseeing your financial statements, you are responsible for upholding safety in the office, especially with Covid-19 and its potential variants lurking just around the corner. Safe workspace is also becoming more vital nowadays, given the ease of restrictions in a few regions in Canada and business industries now requiring their workforce to report onsite.
But it’s not just the employer who should implement the proper office regulations to keep the workplace clean and safe. Employees are also responsible for adhering to work safety regulations. In fact, part II of the Canada Labour Code declares that the workplace parties (employees and employers) each have their roles in raising and dealing with health and safety concerns. Having a safe and hazard-free workspace can also prevent financial or custodial penalties. Moreover, if the health and safety guidelines are strictly implemented and followed, employers and employees can practice self-reliance in dealing with potential office hazards.
In this article, we will tackle the common categories of office hazards. Afterwards, we will cover 10 critical steps you must follow to keep your employees comfortable, safe, and happy while performing their daily tasks.
Common Office Hazard Categories
Anything can happen while you are hustling in your office. Perhaps that newly purchased chandelier unexpectedly collapsed and injured one of the workers. Another might claim that she caught one of her co-workers taking pictures of her without consent. And another might complain about the impossible amount of work she’s getting every day.
Various safety hazards can occur in different office areas and might put your workers at high risk. Another way to ensure proper precautions is to be aware of the workplace hazards categories. See the list of these categories with their relevant examples below:
- Safety hazards can cause trips, falls and slips. Examples are cords strewn across the floor and poorly installed electrical wiring.
- Biological hazards, also known as “biohazards,” usually occur in working spaces prone to fungi, bacteria, viruses, and blood transmissions (e.g., colleges and universities, daycare facilities, laboratories, hospitals, nursing homes, and others).
- Physical hazards are brought on by extreme weather conditions and other risky working environment situations. Examples are radiation, overexposure to the sun, constant loud noise, and unregulated air conditioning temperature.
- Ergonomic hazards include strain-causing positions induced by any of the following factors: poorly adjusted chairs, poor sitting posture, excessive use of force, and repetitive lifting of heavy objects.
- Chemical hazards happen when a worker is exposed to chemical preparations conducted in the office premises. These include various cleaning products, vapours, fumes, harmful gases, flammable materials, pesticides, etc.
- Work organization hazards can cause short-term or long-term effects (e.g., stress and strains). Examples are ridiculous workloads, lack of respect from fellow workers, the feeling of being out of place, and sexual harassment.
- Environmental hazards are constantly changing, so they are mostly unpredictable. Examples include extreme temperature or precipitation, harmful levels of ultraviolet exposure, and exposure to dangerous animals.
10 Steps to a Safer Office
Step 1: Conduct a workplace risk assessment.
Injury prevention in the office is why workplace risk assessment is fundamental. You must determine the (potential) risks present, assess the injury or illness, identify measures to lessen or prevent them and record your findings. Afterward, you need to review the risk assessment outcomes.
Step 2: Hire the right people or organization.
Administrators are at the core of ensuring workplace safety. You need to have a reliable team of office administration personnel (managers, supervisors, IT personnel, HR officers, and others) who can keep confidential company and employee information. They must also be efficient in responding to employee concerns promptly.
Also, ensure that you select qualified individuals for the following:
- Nurses and doctors to perform employee checkups and attend to other medical emergencies.
- Safety officers to attend to employee complaints accompanied by proper investigation.
- A reliable team of cleaning specialists in Canada to keep your office sanitized and clutter-free. Ideally, you should hire people who can conduct weekly office disinfection. If your resources won’t allow it and your business workspace is small, you can always employ only a few trustworthy utility personnel.
- A mental health advisor (if your resources allow it) to keep your employees’ emotional and mental wellness in check.
Step 3: Orient the employees about the significance of a hazard-free workspace.
All office staff must know of their roles in upholding safety and mitigating risks happening in the office, whether known or foreseeable hazards. Proper training, seminars, and supervision must be provided to establish a workplace safety culture. For example, before they end their shift, they must unplug chargers from outlets, turn off their computers and laptops, and unplug them from the sockets. This will save electricity and prevent electrical incidents, such as blasts, electrocutions, or worse, fire. Another example is when an employee feels threatened or harassed by a co-employee. They must be fully informed of what department to talk to about their concerns.
These preventive measures must be documented (such as in the organization’s code of conduct and safety handbook).
Step 4: Put up directive labels and signs.
While cheap, putting up directive labels and signs will effectively guide your employees on where the bathroom sleeping lounge, pantry, and other office areas are located. These are also used to communicate essential hazards and proper safety procedures to your workers. Even the most experienced employees might still need them from time to time.
Step 5: Check office appliances and furniture.
Some of the everyday struggles office workers encounter are noisy, faulty, and dirty appliances and furniture. To reduce on-the-job accidents, purchase secure appliances and furniture, such as downdraft tables in Ontario and high-quality air compressors (which macair.ca can offer you). Furthermore, have professionals periodically inspect, maintain, and repair them to ensure they remain in tip-top condition.
Step 6: Upgrade office equipment and tools.
Ensure that your employees utilize upgraded office equipment and tools to level up their sense of comfort. For example, factories use counterbalance lift truck rear guards to increase your forklift operators’ safety.
In other commercial settings, you should upgrade your monitors and other workstation equipment to carry out your employees’ daily tasks on time. They will likely get distracted when their monitors turn on and off without any apparent reason. They will be less productive if their outdated tools and software corrupt their work.
Step 7: Install CCTV and alarm systems.
Installing CCTV and alarm systems is another vital part of ensuring safety and security in the office. You can monitor daily operations and catch suspicious activities, contributing to your employees’ peace of mind. Office incidents, like theft, can also be easily and quickly investigated. Having alarm systems will also deter burglars from entering your business premises. Lastly, you will be able to respond quickly when fire, earthquakes, and other dangerous events occur.
Step 8: Keep your employees motivated and updated with safety culture.
No one is spared from experiencing burnouts and stress. Everyone goes through it. Safety hazards, as established above, also include employees submitting quality output. Conducting regular team or one-on-one feedback can keep your employees motivated and consistently deliver productive work. If there are alarming office events that might put them at risk, do not delay notifying (or reminding) them of the correct safety procedures. If there is cooperation between both parties, you can achieve a hazard-free workspace with happy workers.
You can even create events so they feel part of the fun, especially lone workers. Whatever you choose to do to contribute to their motivation, make it easy for your employees to come to you with health and safety concerns. They must know that they can report hazards right away and identify potential areas of concern you may not have noticed.
Step 9: Have regular meetings with the higher-ups about promoting safety in the office.
Upholding safety in the workplace is an everyday thing. Conduct regular meetings with the core people of your office operations—office administrators, including supervisors and managers. Their jobs are not limited to evaluating employee work performance. These also extend to keeping their team members happy and safe. They are responsible for ensuring that their members know proper documentation and investigation when office accidents arise. In addition, they must conduct every safe procedure with impartiality.
Step 10: Conduct an employee survey.
Although often overlooked by many organizations, conducting employee surveys is also as essential as the other steps. Making your employees feel heard is vital to maintaining a safe work environment. By conducting employee surveys and asking them for suggestions to improve operations and management in the office, you demonstrate that you value their opinions.
Your employees are the foundation of your business. Ensuring their physical, mental, and emotional well-being is crucial. They will gradually and negatively affect their productivity if their work performance is unsatisfactory, negatively impacting the entire business operation. Take care of them today by identifying the most prevalent workplace hazards.