One of the top priorities on any employer’s list is always going to be health and safety. When you think of health and safety, high risk environments like factories and warehouses often spring to mind. But whilst the office can be considered a low risk environment, there is still a great deal to consider where compliance is concerned.
All employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to do all that is reasonably practicable to protect the health, safety and welfare of their personnel.
Regular risk assessments are vital to ascertain hazards and, once these are identified, steps must be taken to reduce the risks. In an office environment, employers often focus a great deal of attention on hazards such as tripping and manual lifting, however there is a lot more to health and safety in the office than this. Injuries can be sustained simply by sitting at a desk in an uncomfortable position, or by having to constantly access things like files and anything else that is needed on a day to day basis. Sometimes it is the simple things that can lead to health and safety issues.
Office staff spend a large proportion of their working days sitting at desks. So if they are not provided with comfortable furniture that is fit for purpose, it stands to reason that health and well-being problems could easily start to develop. Thousands upon thousands of employees are forced to take time off work every year due to musculoskeletal disorders, many of which are down to poor posture. This is precisely why the selection of good quality office furniture is such a vital part of the business health and safety strategy.
As we discovered when we looked at the importance of ergonomics when planning desk space, a happy, comfortable workforce is not just a healthy one that doesn’t cost the business in terms of time off sick; it is also a productive and motivated workforce which contributes to the success of the firm.
The role of office furniture in workplace health and safety
Poor posture as we mentioned is one of the most significant issues faced by desk based staff.
Chairs are one of the most important considerations when it comes to health and safety. Good posture can be promoted courtesy of an ergonomic office chair which allows maximum tailoring to individual needs and preferences. An adjustable seat and back and the option to keep or remove armrests will help greatly in encouraging workers to adopt the best possible position for working.
Desks are another major factor in the employer’s drive for the optimum working environment. As with chairs, adjustability plays an important role in health and safety. Everyone is different after all, so it stands to reason that one desk won’t fit all needs. Height adjustable desks make it possible for staff to adapt their workstation to suit them perfectly. They also allow those with a preference for stand-up working to do what comes most naturally to them. Switching between sitting and standing desk work can be a health and safety plus; allowing staff to change their positions can prevent the seizing up of joints and allow blood to flow.
Desk accessories that are designed to add comfort at the desk will also aid health and safety. Monitor arms help to place the monitor in the most ideal position, avoiding neck, back and arm strain as well as eye strain; all common injuries in the office environment. Laptop stands do the same job, and footrests can help greatly in the battle against poor posture.
Never forget that workplace health and safety doesn’t just cover the physical aspects of health; it also extends to mental health. Workplace stress is a major issue in the UK, nd this is also covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), over 12 million working days are lost on average each year due to stress at a cost of between £33 and £43 billion to employers. Promoting health and happiness in the workplace is therefore vital, and office furniture can play a pivotal role in this respect.
Sit-stand working as already mentioned can be a major positive for physical health, but it can be a wonderful stress reliever too, and breakout zones allow staff to escape from the pressures of open plan working and take some time out to refocus.
Achieve health and safety compliance with help from ADD office
ADD office is a UK-wide supplier of premium quality office furniture. We have everything you need to ensure your staff are healthy, safe and comfortable throughout their working day. Please feel free to contact our helpful team for fully tailored advice on achieving the best possible environment for your workforce in terms of health and safety.