Office safety

Hazards found in offices are not to be underestimated. Most incidents are caused by the simplest things and slips, trips and falls are the commonest cause of incidents in every work environments. The risk of a serious incident such as a fire, are lessened by following the College Fire Safety Policy, and ensuring that staff and students have local inductions from day one. At the very least, they need to know how to evacuate the building and where to assemble, be able to call for help and to use the fire alarm call points, know where extinguishers are located and how to contact Security, obtain first aid and report accidents and near misses. Your local safety advisor should be able to assist with this, or your work supervisor.

Work supervisors are responsible for conducting and recording risk assessments. Risk assessments must be proportionate to the risk, but the process is simple:

Step 1: Identify the hazards

Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how

Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Step 4: Record your findings and implement them

Step 5: Review your assessment and update if necessary

Risk assessments need regular review, for example in the event of a change of location, a change of process or personnel. With regard to this last point, if a member of staff reports that they are pregnant, or if a young person (between the ages of 14 and 17), starts work or work experience for example, risk assessments will need review.

The types of hazards found might include the following:

  • trip hazards - such as a rug or raised flooring
  • overloaded shelves or heavy objects stored above head height, particularly if access is required regularly
  • having to “work at height” - without an appropriate ladder or kick stool
  • heavy or awkward objects such as computers, boxes of paper or water containers which need to be moved
  • untested electrical equipment and overloaded sockets
  • ergonomics hazards caused by using computers
  • working late and alone

The Safety Department and the College Occupational Health Department have produced guidance on a number of related subjects including computer healthpregnancy, offsite work and lone working. Alternatively, if you have any specific queries, contact your local safety advisor directly.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), have also produced guidance on office environments and risk assessment

Follow this link for an example of a Code of Practice for office areas

Issued: August 2007