OFFICE WORKERS H&S GUIDANCEMany perceive offices as safe places to work and while they are undoubtedly safer than some other workplaces, which are not to say they are hazard free. Concerns such as ventilation, temperatures, personal space and lighting are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
- Ventilation where possible be provided by
fresh or purified air;
- Temperature should be a minimum of 16°C:
there is no legal maximum but temperatures should be reasonable
at all times;
- Everyone is entitled to 11 cubic metres of
space with the amount of furniture also being taken into consideration;
- Lighting should be suitable and sufficient to carry out any tasks without eyestrain.
Other areas to be considered obviously include working with visual display units (VDU's). This is covered by the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992.
A competent person should undertake an analysis of the workstation: they should look at the keyboard, the computer itself, and the adjustability of the furniture and the layout of the workstation.
The use of machinery might not be immediately obvious but photocopiers and laser printers can give off chemicals into the atmosphere due to their reaction with light. Ozone can be produced this way.
Carbon black in toner also needs to be handled very carefully: older and badly maintained machines should be kept separate in a ventilated room or at least 3 metres from the nearest worker.
Other hazards include electricity and possible manual handling hazards. Management have responsibilities under the law, and where the GMB is recognised, GMB Health and Safety representatives can intercede on your behalf.
For further information on this subject or any other Health, Safety and Welfare matter, contact your Regional Organiser or your RHSO.