Every office and workplace has OSHA guidelines that have to be followed in order to ensure workplace safety. OSHA covers everything from lighting and temperature to ventilation and ergonomics.
Aside from keeping employees away from physical harm, workplace safety also encourages employees to be more productive. When employees feel that they are safe at work, they’re more willing to put in extra effort to get their job done.
Employing the right ergonomics can keep the body aligned, which reduces strain and stress. While ergonomics reduces risk, it’s also used to increase productivity. There are three main factors that go into workplace ergonomics: office layout, furniture and equipment. It’s important to follow all of the ergonomics guidelines, not just pick and choose. Layout, furniture and equipment have to work together to truly protect the employee.
Office Layout: Offices and equipment should be easily accessible for employees. That means that machines that are used by everyone, like the fax machine or photocopier, are in a place that’s easy to access. Also, walkways should be clear or any obstructions.
Furniture: Often, management will purchase furniture that’s specifically designed for workplace ergonomics. This may include supportive chairs that can be adjusted or special keyboards that can reduce strain on the wrist. The height of the desk and computer monitor should line up properly so that employees don’t have to strain to work.
Equipment: In offices, small tasks are usually performed over and over, which can end up causing strain on the body over time. When office equipment is designed, manufacturers take this risk into consideration. Tools and machines should be designed with the employee in mind. This could mean having a device that lifts boxes instead of having the employee do it or purchasing electric tools so that employees don’t stress their bodies.
Depending on the type of workplace, hazardous materials may be present on a regular basis. Everything from basic cleaning chemicals to volatile compounds can effect employees if they’re not stored and handled correctly. Chemicals aren’t the only hazardous materials in an office setting. Machines, like computers and fax machines, can emit particles that can be hazardous if breathed in for a long period of time. This is why it’s important to keep machines in areas that are well ventilated. Also, brand new machines should be aired out before use.
If there is bright light that shines on or behind a computer, this can cause the employee to have eye strain or headaches. If the employee is near a window, a shade will help manage bright light that streams through the windows. A light diffuser will be beneficial as well. Light isn’t the only thing that has to be monitored – glare should be cut down as well. Glare can prevent employees from seeing their computer well, which can reduce productivity and efficiency.
It’s important that the workplace have the right temperature setting for the season. An office that is too hot or too cold can be annoying for employees to work in, especially if they’re uncomfortable. Plus, excessive heat or not enough heat can make employees sick. During the summertime, the temperature should be between 73 and 78 degrees. During the wintertime, the temperature should be set between 68 and 74 degrees. No matter what time of year it is, the humidity should be somewhere between 30 and 60 percent.
Without the proper ventilation, office space can be stuffy and dry. This can cause employees to have dry eyes, which makes it difficult to work efficiently. Office furniture should never be placed directly in front of or under air ducts. Also, air ducts and diffusers that are specifically designed to redirect air flow should be used in the workplace.
Jenny Houston is a professional blogger that writes for SafetyBanners.org, a leading manufacturer of safety banners for the workplace.