An office risk assessment is used to make sure the workplace is safe for everyone, whether it’s their usual work environment or they’re visiting an office for a meeting. Office health and safety is something every employer has to keep in mind when staff work in this setting. It is a legal requirement to provide a safe workplace, and your employees will feel better for it.
An office might not be the most dangerous working environment, but there are hazards to be addressed to keep people safe. Some of these are obvious, such as fire hazards, cleaning materials, or lifting and carrying heavy objects, but other risks are less obvious. It might surprise you to know what exactly is included in office risk assessments, when some of the hazards are things that we don’t even think about.
An office risk assessment is focused on office hazards that are present in the workplace. A health and safety risk assessment will cover general hazards in the business or workplace, but a specific assessment of staff’s work setting takes a deeper look at any risk or hazard that can cause injury or harm.
Like other risk assessments, this is done by analysing everything identified as a hazard or risk to people, what the possible effects an incident might have, and the steps taken to address or mitigate the danger. Office risk assessments should be checked and updated regularly to account for any changes to the environment by new equipment, extra employees, changed processes, and to account for lessons learned by any accidents that have occurred.
It is the responsibility of the employer to complete an office risk assessment to ensure their workplace is safe and suitable for employees to work in. In organisations with a dedicated HR professional or team, they may complete the assessment on behalf of the employer, but they will still be responsible for its findings, actions, and any failures to address the hazards identified.
To improve office health and safety, an employer might work with an external business specialising in health and safety services, like risk assessments or accident investigations, to make sure these tasks are completed to the right standard and without being distracted by other business priorities.
Health and safety in the office is important to make sure employees and visitors are safe at all times. This is required nationally by law, and there are severe penalties for employers found to have neglected this responsibility. These penalties include fines and legal action, which can have further implications for businesses and their owners.
For employees, office hazards can directly impact their health and wellbeing. If staff are hurt at work, they will need time off to recover and this impacts the productivity of the business. There could be payments to make in response to this injury, and it may result in employees leaving the company altogether. This brings hiring and training costs into the equation, and this money could be better spent elsewhere.
Some of the office hazards covered in an office risk assessment will be obvious: such as fire hazards, electrical fixtures, wet floors, and even the use of strong cleaning supplies. Other hazards are things we don’t think of – that we expect to encounter in our daily lives.
Office health and safety means it’s the employer’s responsibility to mitigate or address every hazard, no matter how obvious or obscure it might be. You might find some of the following hazards covered by an office risk assessment surprising, but they will prevent simple accidents that many of us don’t even think about.
Uneven flooring is an office hazard most people don’t think about, as they expect smooth and stable surfaces to walk on. Recording any flooring problems in an office risk assessment makes it easy to plan work to resolve the issue. Uneven flooring can come from:
As soon as an issue with the floor is noticed, it should be reported and every member of staff made aware. Every effort should be made to fix it quickly to avoid any accidents. These kinds of office hazards are dangerous because they easily slip the mind, making an accident more likely.
Most offices have different pieces of technology for staff to use, from computers and laptops through to phones and printers. All of the wires used to power and connect these devices can create a unique office hazard.
While the layout of desks and location of equipment can help keep these wires focused in certain parts of the office, all it takes is one shoe or bag strap to catch a wire and pull it. This can damage the technology and pull the wires into other areas, where people can trip on them.
Health and safety in the office should take into account where desks, technology and the wires go, and how everything will be kept tidy to minimise the chance of people injuring themselves from these items.
Ergonomics is an important part of health and safety in the office. With employees sitting at desks for large parts of their day, the risk of developing aches and pains increases with the wrong equipment.
A supportive office chair, a desk at the right height, monitors in line with eye level, and the right posture can help avoid injuries and aches. Performing an office risk assessment on an employee’s desk and working conditions will keep them in the best shape.
Computers and technology can be office hazards – especially if they’re not used correctly. Removing or disposing of electrical goods can also be hazardous, depending on the item in question and the condition it’s in. An office risk assessment should cover things like:
While not part of health and safety, having a plan for what to do if any piece of technology fails is also useful. This can prevent business grinding to a halt, even if it’s not the easiest situation to manage.
Kitchens can be found in the office and at home, and most people are aware of the hazards certain appliances or utensils pose. Even a kettle, with its boiling water, can be a risk.
In the workplace, office hazards include kitchen appliances and utensils. These need to be recorded as the employer has a responsibility to keep everyone safe, and employees expect basic facilities in the workplace for refreshments.
It might seem odd, but sharp knives, boiling water, and other hazards need to be recorded on an office risk assessment, as well as what steps were taken to reduce the chance of accidents occuring. It might be raising awareness, training, or ensuring items in the kitchen are kept in the best condition.
Given how important an office risk assessment is, you should make sure they’re done right. At Rhino Safety, we know that every business owner has a lot of things to do, which is why our team of expert health and safety consultants are able to help. We have a wealth of experience in completing risk assessments to improve office health and safety, catching hazards that other people don’t even consider including.
Find out how Rhino Safety can help with your office risk assessments by getting in touch with us today. You can be sure you’ll be fully compliant with all legislation regarding health and safety in the office with our support.