On average, an office worker will spend around 40 hours each week in the office. With so much of a person’s life spent in the workplace, it’s absolutely crucial that it is a safe and comfortable environment for everyone. It is an employer’s legal responsibility to provide and maintain a safe and hygienic space for their employees and this often begins with the design of the space.
While many employers will focus on the aesthetics and style of an office, the design also needs to incorporate health and safety considerations. Here are some the most important considerations to keep in mind when creating a safe office space.
Health and Safety: An Employer’s Legal Responsibilities
Every employer has a duty to ‘ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare at work of all his employees’ (according to the Health and Safety Act 1974). This includes providing and maintaining a workplace which is free from hazards, providing thorough training, adequate storage and taking steps to protect employees, i.e. through providing personal protective equipment where necessary.
If an employer fails to satisfy their legal responsibilities, they may be liable for compensation should an employee become injured or unwell as a result of their environment. Find out more about compensation claims in the workplace at www.the-compensation-experts.co.uk.
Adequate Workspace Lighting
Inadequate lighting in the workplace is an essential consideration when creating an office. If rooms are dark, lights are flickering or electricals are unsafe there is an increased risk of ill health developing and of accidents taking place. Ideally, the major source of light in the office should be natural light so try to include as many windows as possible. This will keep the office well-lit and can even help to boost morale. If natural light is not easily available, consider introducing lighting which mimics the qualities of natural light such as Ottlite desk lamps.
Safe Workspace Layout
The layout of an office space will have a tangible impact on the motivation and productivity of your employees and the efficiency of your business in general. It should satisfy all health and safety regulations but also be open and clear of too much obstruction. You also need to ensure that employees have easy access to toilet facilities and an emergency escape route.
Hygienic Toilets and Facilities
The office should provide enough toilets for the number of employees, should be easily accessible and cleaned on a regular basis. You may want to consider automatic hand-washing and drying facilities which can be more hygienic and conserve both water and energy. Employees should also have a clean area where they can eat and drink fresh water.
The temperature in the office and the quality of the air that your employees are breathing is also crucial in maintaining good working conditions so you should invest in a good heating and air conditioning system.
Planning for Fire Safety
You also need to take steps to prevent fires from developing which includes removing fire hazards, providing fire extinguishers and ensuring all employees know what to do and how to exit in the event of an emergency. Fire doors should be clear of obstructions and combustible chemicals or other goods should be stored safely.