Safety in Offices and other General Areas

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1 Safety in Offices and other General Areas 1. INTRODUCTION This document covers health and safety in offices and other 'general areas' including corridors, stairs, entrances, small kitchens and rest areas. Offices and other general areas are usually considered as low risk places of work. Many of the hazards encountered are similar to those found in the home, e.g. electricity, tripping and slipping hazards, obstructions, unsuitable furniture and shelving, unsatisfactory storage, fire risk etc. Other hazards will be associated with specific items of equipment. They can usually be kept safe by applying common sense to the risks that are present. However the risks should not be under estimated as many serious accidents have occurred in these areas. 2. OBJECTIVES OF THIS DOCUMENT to raise your awareness about the risks of injury from accidents that can occur; to identify how you can contribute to reducing the risk of accidents; to ensure you understand your responsibility for ensuring yours and your colleagues' safety. The document is aimed at staff and managers/supervisors. 3. CAUSES OF ACCIDENTS The key cause of accidents is usually human error and generally results from one of three factors: lack of knowledge or skills; poor attitude; policies and management arrangements which make human error more likely to happen. 4. ACCIDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY 10% of accidents reported to the Health and Safety Unit were in offices themselves, 20% in corridors or on stairs associated with offices. Examples of accidents Banged head on open draw of filing cabinet: cut to head 5 Slipped going down stairs: fractured wrist 4 Tripped over loose floor block: fractured ribs 22 Slipped on wet corridor being mopped: sprained ankle 14 Fell of desk closing window: bruising to body 6 Fell down flight of steps carrying papers: bruising to face 4 Slipped on loose mat on office floor: fractured foot 28 Scratched eye with piece of paper 4 Tripped over leg of chair: bruising to body 12 Twisted picking up piece of paper: swollen knee 5 Fell down steps: cuts to arm 5 Tripped over a loose carpet: bruising to body 20 Chair slid away as person sat down: internal injury 80 Fell off chair trying to reach high shelf: fractured wrist 15 Climbing on lower shelves to reach higher shelves: strained back muscles 30 Bending over cupboard: sprained back 15 Days off work

2 5. HOW TO AVOID OR ELIMINATE THE RISK OF INJURY AND ILL HEALTH PLANNING Offices and general areas should be well designed and planned. Particular attention should be paid to: space; circulation routes; storage arrangements; lighting; ventilation; the siting of photocopiers and similar noisy and heat emitting equipment. The work itself should be planned to minimise stress, boredom and fatigue. SUPERVISORS, GENERAL assess risks and take action; monitor the workplace continuously to ensure staff discharge their safety responsibilities; promote good housekeeping; promote a positive attitude towards hazards, one which people are encouraged to take initiatives to eliminate hazards, rather leaving them for someone else. TRIPPING look out for damaged carpets and flooring; avoid leaving obstructions; where flooring is wet put up warning signs; don't run; wear shoes that are appropriate. make sure damaged floors surfaces are speedily repaired; ensure all leads, wires and cables are securely, and safely, located. FALLS use the correct equipment; don't stand on insecure objects; don't over stretch. storage should avoid the need for ladders etc.; when necessary provide suitable equipment; make sure your staff know the consequences of improper use of equipment and follow safety procedures.

3 LIFTING don't try to lift loads that are too heavy or awkward; always check the characteristics of the load before lifting; use the correct equipment; keep the centre of gravity close to your body-don't stretch; lift with the legs, not the back. try to eliminate or reduce the need to lift; don't ask staff to move or lift objects which will pose undue strain. STORAGE try and avoid using high shelves; don't overload the top draws; always close draws and doors; label all containers kept in cupboards; don't move cupboards without first emptying them. ensure storage and filing systems don't encourage the overloading of shelves, cupboards and cabinets; ensure access to shelves, cupboards and cabinets is free of obstruction; inform staff not to attempt to improvise in order to reach high/awkward shelves; monitor, control and label any substance which is potentially a health hazard; (COSHH) inform staff of the nature, location and storage rules of any substance which is a potential hazard to health. ELECTRIC SHOCK don't overload sockets; keep water away from electricity; never work on electrical equipment without switching it off at the mains; never attempt anything your not trained to do; if possible switch off and unplug equipment at night; always report electrical faults. inspect cabling and sockets regularly; ensure that staff are aware of socket's load capacities and do not exceed them; ensure staff do not attempt to fix machines while the supply is live; ensure staff can recognise on/off switches and sockets to isolate and switch off faulty equipment; ensure electrical equipment is regularly inspected and tested.

4 FIRE make sure you know the evacuation routes; keep fire exits free of obstructions; don't overload electrical sockets; store all flammable liquids securely (e.g. solvents, cleaning fluid etc.); don't be careless with cigarettes and matches; be vigilant at all times. ensure the fire alarm is audible in your areas; make sure all your staff know and follow the fire drill procedures; regularly check to ensure that evacuation routes are clear of obstructions; train new recruits in fire procedures; enforce University regulations; ensure the location of fire extinguishers is known and clear of obstruction. WORKSTATIONS (INCLUDING DISPLAY SCREENS) use a chair that is stable, adjustable in height and has the facility for back tilt; use a footrest; keep sufficient space in front of the keyboard to provide support for hands and arms; ensure the screen is free from flicker and reflective glare; use a document holder; take regular breaks from the screen. ensure each work station is assessed; institute remedial actions as a result of such assessments; train staff to use their work stations correctly; plan workloads so that staff get regular breaks from the screen; monitor health problems as a result of the use of display screen equipment. 6. EMERGENCY PROCEDURES should be aware of emergency procedures. These include: fire; accident, injury and illness; bomb threats. Notices giving details of the correct procedures and list of first aiders should be posted on notice boards. Details of emergency procedures are also given in the front of the University telephone directory.

5 7. WHAT DOES LEGISLATION REQUIRE? Risk Assessments General assessments should be carried out to identify significant risks and action taken to eliminate/minimise those risks. Manual Handling and Workstations/Display Screen Equipment, Hazardous Substances Assessments should be carried out to identify significant risks and action taken to eliminate/minimise those risks including training. Temperature in indoor workplaces The temperature must ensure reasonable comfort and be at least 16 degrees centigrade where sedentary activity takes place. Thermometers should be readily available throughout the workplace. Lighting Lighting should be sufficient to enable people to work and move about safely. Cleanliness and waste materials Every workplace and the furniture and fittings should be kept clean. Cleaning and the removal of waste should be carried out by an effective method. Waste should be stored in suitable receptacles. Room dimensions and space Workrooms should have enough free space to allow people to move about with ease. A minimum of 11 cubic meters should be allowed for each person. Any part of a room above 3m high should not be included in the calculation. Suitability and maintenance The workplace, equipment, devices and systems should be suitable and maintained in safe working order. Circulation areas There should be sufficient room to allow people to circulate safely and with ease. Floor surfaces should not have holes, be uneven or slippery and should be kept tidy and free from obstructions. Falling objects Items should be stacked so that they cannot fall. Shelving must be strong enough for the loads placed on it.

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