EHS, or Environmental Health and Safety is a set of discipline that looks over every work-related activity and workplace setting and makes sure these cause or pose no threat or harm to the employees, customers, and the rest in and of the environment. Part of the essential sub practices for a company to maintain compliance with the government’s EHS regulations is office safety.
Unfortunately, however, office safety is an area that’s often deprived of attention and focus it deserves. As a matter of fact, only a few EHS software providers incorporate features related to office safety. Majority of EHS software in the market are rather focused on eliminating environmental hazards, or hazards present in outdoor work-related activities. This misconception is running rampant and has to be corrected the soonest time possible.
Safety Engineering 101
Safety engineers should not limit the definition of workplace safety as the management and elimination of hazards in plants, mines, oil rigs, construction sites, power utility companies, production factories, or others of the same kind. Although there can be more potential dangers in such areas, dangers and emergencies naturally choose no place. With that being said, danger may also be present at the office desk or from unorganized cabling like in cable spaghetti cases. As a matter of fact, studies show that more than half of a hundred thousand disabling injury-related cases happen in a seemingly safe office area usually caused by falls, muscle pains, and electric shocks.
For a more efficient and appropriate drafting of office safety standards and to make sure your future EHS software has the features that promote office safety, here are some potentially hazardous areas that you should also look into:
How your office is laid out and designed plays an important role in supporting your company’s movement towards practicing office safety. More than the aesthetic aspect, every safety officer should make sure that an office space poses no mishaps. Uneven floors, low ceilings, or edged corners have to be avoided among many other hazards.
Proper work station spacing should also be practiced such that desks and other office equipment like shredders, printers, and mobile cabinets are placed at safe lengths apart. This will ensure that unnecessary yet injury-potential bumps are eradicated. Proper placing also has to be followed, i.e. book stacks or other hard equipment should not be placed at table edges where a minor fall can injure an employee’s foot. For tropical areas, air conditioners should be placed at the right spots such that their blows do not directly go towards any employee. Otherwise, pneumonia, cold, or other allergic reactions may be incurred.
On top of these specifics, the general rule should be that ever office space is maintained clean and free from any hazards.
Every office has to have a proper ventilation system to ensure that the air that everyone is breathing in is safe and clean. This also ensures safety and a conducive work environment. Sans proper ventilation, bad or foul odors can be easily trapped and cause dizziness and discomfort. Chemical related or comfort room stinks may even cause fainting or other health issues. Both in general not only makes a company EHS noncompliant, they can also potentially disrupts an employee’s focus to work.
Office safety should not only look at the hazards. It should also promote and uphold good health of the employees. Part of this is making sure every office has proper lighting, i.e. not too dark, or not too light, to prevent eye strain and other eye related conditions that can obscure vision. You’ll find a number of EHS software in the market that can simulate lighting. This feature will assist users in ensuring the office has no dark spots.
Many companies nowadays already impose policies regulating employee-triggered noise in every office area. However, unsettled noises are still neglected at times and these can consequently cause unnecessary injuries or accidents especially to the ear. Aside from that, a distracting, noisy working environment can easily cause momentary lapses in every employee’s focus and can affect their performance in the long run. It may seem odd but a good safety officer should also man this aspect.
The Importance of Ergonomics
More advanced EHS software boast of a feature that looks into a workplace’s level of ergonomics.
Ergonomics is the study and process of lay-outing and arranging a workplace, its systems and products so that they come appropriate with their users. It pertains to the design of anything from people to workspaces, to sports, health, and safety towards an aim of an improved workspace with minimal risk of injury or harm. Without ergonomics, the likelihood of having poorly designed worksites is not regulated and this can significantly affect the productivity of the workers, causing them fatigue and frustration. This may also lead to having more injured employees that is so negative on the company’s image.
Records from Safe Work Australia showed that the total economic cost of injuries and illnesses incurred from working, or at a workplace was as high as $60 billion dollars. Recent figures further showed that the world’s common work-related disability that employees from offices and building sites can likely have is lower back pain.
Such studies have found a solution in ergonomics to create a safe and comfortable workspace, thereby promoting higher productivity. As its advocate is pretty much the same with that of EHS, companies who are to comply with stately EHS standards are highly encouraged to take ergonomics into account in implementing environmental health and safety.
How ergonomics can be practiced…
- Good Posture – Just because it feels comfortable at the present, it does not mean it is ergonomically correct. Encouraging employees to practice good posture is an easy yet equally important move towards having a safety workplace. Part of this is encouraging employees to shift movements from time to time and allowing short break times for stretching to avoid strains.
- Lifting with the Knees – Proper ergonomics includes proper lifting techniques that rely more on the knees rather than on the back.
- Sit on a Good Chair – In complying with EHS standards, it is always best to start with the minors like investing in ergonomic chairs for the employees. These chairs are usually adjustable in terms of height, arm rest, seat pan, and lumbar support. Employees with minor disabilities must also be provided with more appropriate chairs.
- Proper Computer Tables – Practicing ergonomics also means getting the proper computer table that facilitates arms support and the keyboard and mouse should also be placed at the same level. There also has to be a proper, accessible storage for office supplies like pens, staplers, paper clips, etc.