Creating a Healthy Workspace

Creating a Healthy Workspace: Office Health and Safety Best Practices

As more workers return back to the office on a regular basis, employee health and safety is becoming even more of a priority for UK businesses. Looking after employees is within an organisation’s best interests, after all happy staff make a happy business. Ill health and injured staff can directly affect the performance of a business due to the cost of sick pay, poor productivity and a lack of motivation. Businesses can prioritise employee health and safety by implementing emergency training, creating a positive working environment and enforcing workplace hygiene.

Emergency Procedures

Organisations must provide adequate training to employees to ensure that they fully understand and adhere to the correct health and safety procedures during emergency situations. This includes familiarising employees with emergency escape procedures, fire safety training, basic first aid assistance and so on. Organisations that prioritise employee health and safety training are known to have fewer workplace accidents and injuries.

To minimise risk during an emergency situation, offices should be designed in line with official safety standards, this includes the following:

  • Exit routes must be clearly signposted and protected by fully functioning fire doors.
  • Stairwells should contain sufficient lighting with minimum glare to ensure that employees can safely exit the building.
  • Walkways must remain clear to minimise trip hazards and ensure individuals can exit the building efficiently.
  • Office layout should be divided evenly to allow for spacious walk-ways in between workstations.
  • In areas of high-traffic non-slip surfaces should be used to prevent falls and accidents, especially when exiting the office quickly.

Failure to comply with these safety standards can lead to the potential harm of staff during emergency situations and result in costly fines for your business.

Ergonomic Workstation

In order to prioritise employee health, businesses should ensure that they are providing an effective office design with the correct equipment. Ergonomically designed workstations are essential in preventing general discomfort and in some cases the development of debilitating injuries. In particular, an ergonomically designed chair will prevent the development of musculoskeletal disorders, like shoulder strains, sustained through poor posture and sitting in non-supportive chairs for long periods of time. In addition, adjustable equipment is recommended, moveable desks provide multi-level working so that employees can stretch their legs throughout the day.

Ergonomic design doesn’t just involve furniture but also the use of space. Desk areas should be spacious enough for individuals to move freely without feeling cramped, this will prevent fatigue, pain and poor posture. In addition, when working on laptops or monitors these should be positioned at eye-level to prevent neck pain. If employees are suffering from injuries as a result of a poor workstation, then they are entitled to consult their employer and request a change of working location or equipment. Simply, providing a footstool or laptop stand can go a long way in creating a more ergonomically friendly office space that will benefit employee health.

Workplace Hygiene

As a basic principle, workplaces should be kept as clean as possible, not only to prevent illness but to improve the mental wellbeing of staff. Business should start by ensuring workspaces are tidy and clutter-free, this will improve the cleanliness of the office tremendously and provide a healthy working environment for employees. An abundance of clutter in the workplace can be distracting and have a negative impact on motivation.

It can be beneficial to hire daily cleaning staff to disinfect surfaces, empty bins and keep hygiene products topped up. In addition, placing hand sanitising stations around your office will promote better hygiene and prevent the spread of germs. An unclean workplace will result in more staff sick days and this has the potential to directly affect the performance of your business. In addition, for hybrid office working employee illness may discourage staff from coming into the office which can have negative effects on motivation, productivity and work culture.