You couldn’t be safer than sitting indoors, in the warm, generally not touching anything more lethal than a computer keyboard and telephone – could you? Well as far as workplaces go, probably not, but that doesn’t mean that your office is an intrinsically safe environment, as the thousands of accidents that occur in office environments each year in the UK testify.
Mind you, it should be a safe environment – safe as houses. If you employer has diligently undertaken all their legal obligations to keep you safe there shouldn’t be any risk to your health, safety or welfare left unaddressed. This will have included assessing the risks in your working environment, putting the necessary control measures in place and fully training you and your colleagues in health and safety awareness, including such essentials as fire safety and manual handling and lifting and empowering you to be pro-active in keeping your office safe and how to avoid occupational illnesses and injuries.
If you have an employer who has been negligent in carrying out their legal duty of care towards you, many risks that you might not have even been aware of could exist in your seemingly safe environment and might lead to some of the following unfortunately relatively common accidents occurring:
• Slips and trips due to hazards such as cables running across floors and corridors, worn carpeting, unnecessarily slippery floor coverings, spillages not cleaned up quickly, items left in the middle of floor spaces, lack of desk storage allowing items to fall into the floor.
• Falls from standing on furniture (tables and chairs) rather than a step ladder to reach high places or inadequate lighting on stairs.
• Musculoskeletal injuries from attempting to carry, lift, push or pull objects without the appropriate manual handling training.
• Burns and other injuries from electrocution due to using electrical equipment that is faulty or which hasn’t been annually portable appliance (PAT) tested.
• Contamination from asbestos due to incorrectly carried out repair or maintenance to the building you work in.
• Asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning due to faulty central heating boilers
• Injuries due to working with common office machines with partially exposed moving or very hot parts such as shredders, photocopiers, binding machines and laminators, without training and awareness of the risks such as catching hair, clothing or jewellery.
That’s quite a list for a cosy, safe office and needless to say some of the injuries suffered can be appalling and life changing and a few can be fatal. Health and safety is the key to making sure that a bad day at the office doesn’t suddenly get much, much worse.