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Three reasons to make health and safety in your office a priority

by , 28 March 2013
If you thought keeping your employees safe and healthy only applies to factories and mines- think again!

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) covers all places where employees work. This includes your office environment (Section 8.1 of the OHSA).

If one of your employee's is injured in the office because you've ignored your duties, that employee could have a COID claim against your company!

What constitutes an office?
Offices vary from multi-storeyed, air conditioned buildings to small areas that're part of warehouses, factories, hospitals and homes.

While hazards in the office may not always be as obvious as those in factories, office workers face a range of health and safety issues.
As the person responsible for health and safety in your company, you need to make sure your employees are safe and free from any risks!
Let's take a look why office health and safety is important…
Ignorance isn't always bliss… Now the DoL could shut my company down
The DoL called today, out of nowhere… They said they'd be arriving in 2 weeks for a health and safety inspection.
I can't believe how stupid I've been. I never thought it could happen to me!
I don't have a SHE file and I've never had a risk assessment done on the premises.
I need to get my ducks in row. The DoL said I could lose my business and face heavy penalties or even imprisonment if I don't pass the inspection.
What do I do?
Three reasons to make health and safety in your office a priority
Accidents and injuries in your office is more trouble than it's worth. It's more expensive than you realise. Costs mount up quickly. But, you can save in workers' compensation and lost workdays when injuries and illnesses are prevented. 
Here are three reasons why you must make health and safety a priority in your office:
  1. You have a legal obligation to provide a healthy and safe work environment (Section 8, OHSA);
  2. You'll be able to prevent  injuries  and possible incidents of death in your office which means you won't have to worry about COID claims or being shut down by the DoL;
  3. By working in a safe environment your employees productivity and morale will increase.
Now you know why you need to make sure your office is healthy and safe. But, do you know what hazards to look out for?
Have you identified and removed your office hazards yet?
10 common hazards you may find in your office:
  1. Spills– e.g. spilt coffee or tea on stairs could cause someone to trip and fall;
  2. Cluttered aisles– e.g fire exits that are blocked with boxes;
  3. Objects on the floor– e.g. too many files laying on the floor instead of being filled in the filing cabinet;
  4. Electricity- e.g. exposed electric, computer, printer and telephone cords where people might trip;
  5. Fire - e.g. all flammable materials must be stored away in metal cabinets
  6. Objects stacked on shelves– e.g. all boxes, papers and books must be stored safely on top of files and designated storage cabinets
  7. Office furniture and equipment– e.g. all furniture and fixtures must be free of splinters or sharp edges;
  8. Work stations and desks-  e.g all desks and workstations must have adequate space  for an employee to take cover in the event of an emergency
  9. Heavy objects that you need to move or lift– e.g. all employees must bee shown how to lift things properly;
  10. Cleaning materials- e.g all cleaning materials must be stored safely away.
But, identifying the office hazards is only your first step in creating a healthy and safe working environment for your employees.
Now, you must put a plan together to remove the office hazards or take steps to protect your employees from any risks too.
But how do you do it?
Obey the PPE Regulations with this health and safety tool or face R100 000 in fines or jail time!
Don't fret! Simply page to chapter O 03 page 003 in your Health & Safety Advisor and use the handy checklist to ensure you have identified and removed all the hazards in the office.
If you're not a subscriber yet, click here to order your Health and Safety Advisor and we'll send it to you today! 
In the name of safety
FSP Business: Workplace Safety  
P.S. 5 steps to protect your office workers from HIV
You must provide a work environment that is safe for all workers, without discriminating against HIV positive employees. Implement a risk management programme in five steps:
Step #1: Identify employees at risk
Step #2: Determine the potential risk of exposure
Step #3: Protect your employees against accidental exposure
Step #4: Manage accidental exposure episodes
Step #5: Use PEP with ART
To find out how to successfully implement these steps, turn to chapter H10 in your Health and Safety Advisor Loose Leaf. If you haven't got a copy, now's your chance to order.

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