Risk Assessment for Office Activities Marie Gabutin Perez 22 July 2010 1. INTRODUCTION The office working environment may seem a fairly commonplace and safe location compared to the factory or assembly line environment but there are still risks present in the office environment which could lead to injuries or serious accidents. There are obvious risks such as fires which can happen anywhere but also specific office based issues such as moving furniture or slipping on wet floors.
Some offices may have tiled or lino flooring in kitchen areas or near entrances which when wet can be quite slippery. If it is raining outside then as people enter the building and walk on the floor they will bring in a lot of rainwater which could make the entrance to the office incredibly hazardous if it won’t mop it up. Likewise if any spilled liquids in the kitchen area then people could slip and fall there too, therefore it’s important that either mop up the spill or clearly mark out the area with a sign or note and inform a cleaner or the management about the hazard.
Some of the areas of the work environment that require special attention include chemical hazards, workstation design, equipment, task design, and chemical or environmental hazards, if applicable. Other than these, there are also hazards associated with the physical environment which may include the space in general, ventilation, temperature, light, and other such factors. Apart from that, there are also psychological factors associated with personal interactions, job control, performance, and the work place.
The electrical equipment that is operational in the working environment also poses some threat and hazard to the people handling the equipment. There are chances of electric shock and burn injuries, electrical shorts and fire, or even electrocution. In order to prevent electrical accidents from occurring, it is essential for the equipment to be inspected on regular basis, and moreover, any equipment that is defective in any way should be reported and replaced immediately.
The comfort level of the Imdaad staff members at workplace during working hours should be given special consideration when designing workstations. Failure in doing so can result in the Imdaad staff members going through musculoskeletal disorders. The most frequent case of this can be a chronic soft tissue injury, which is called the Occupational Overuse Syndrome. Another potential safety hazard that may occur in workstations is the height at which storage spaces and shelves are located.
This can cause people to fall or even trip and break a bone. In order to prevent this from happening, the most recommended option is to place these spaces at safe heights. However, if there is need for a high storage space, then the person who is to deal with the task should be provided enough training in dealing with the height and taking precautionary measures. A health hazard may occur in workplace in the form of indoor air pollutants. These can be the cause of respiratory ailments.
In order to avoid this, the air conditioning system should be cleaned properly, and the appliances and machines that give out exhausts should be placed in locations where there is enough ventilation. The noise in the workplace can also pose some problems resulting in stress and tension, thereby being a threat to the psychological health of a person. The first step to prevent this can be by having quiet equipment in the workplace and maintaining good decorum and silence. 2. BACKGROUND
IMDAAD is a facilities management company in a ground floor, residential block of 4-storey building in International city located at Emirates Road, Dubai. Twelve staff settled inside the administration office and approximately 50 operations staff on site who frequently in and out of the office. The office contains typical office furniture and equipment. There is a small pantry, where drinks can be prepared and food heated, and a toilet. It is cleaned every morning by a janitor supplied from another department. They store the cleaning materials in a locked cupboard.
The office is open 7 days a week, from 7:00am to 10:00 pm. 2. 1 OFFICE ACTIVITIES Imdaad International city satellite office receives request for troubleshooting within the residential and commercial units. The aim is to provide a complete facility package such as MEP, Civil, Electrical and Cleaning services to residents, customers and clients. Staff members consist of Managers, Engineers, Trained-skilled workers and Clerical team. The office constantly books and closes work orders, supplies items that are needed which entered into the Quality database.
All staff members are using computers that require them to sit for the whole office-duty hours. Loading off delivery materials are sometimes done in the administration office as there is no room adequate for this kind of activity. Old records are kept on file and placed unto the shelves/brackets that are fixed on the wall. There is an hour break allotted and a small kitchen to cater for some refreshments. Although there is no place to eat, a training area can be used during lunch breaks or if it is available. 3. LEGISLATION 3. 1 HEALTH AND SAFETY REGULATIONS The Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974, states: ‘It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of his Imdaad staff members. ’ (Section 2(1)). Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 Imdaad is required to ensure that they provide a safe place of work. Although fire is not specified directly the act does mention safe access and egress which relates specifically to office safety as it places a duty on Imdaad to ensure that Imdaad staff members are not put at risk.
This implies then, that the Imdaad must identify and evaluate the risks associated with work activities and they must decide if Imdaad staff members are permitted to take those risks by securing the health, safety and welfare of persons at work; protecting persons other than persons at work against risks to health or safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work; controlling the keeping and use of explosive or highly flammable or otherwise dangerous substances, and generally preventing the unlawful acquisition, possession and use of such substances.
Section 3 of the Act extends the employer’s duty of care to include the health and safety of persons not in his employment who may be affected by the risks posed by his undertaking. ( The Management of Health and Safety at work regulations 1999 (the Management regulations) Approved Code of Practice and guidance is aimed Imdaad, managers and other dutyholders for health and safety, including self-employed people. It explains their duties which require them to assess the risks posed to workers and any others who may be affected by their work or business.
This regulation states that every employer shall conduct a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk to the health and safety of persons in his employment and persons who may be affected by his undertaking. The employer must record the findings of this assessment and implement any preventative or protective measures to reduce the risks posed, as low as reasonably practicable (see Appendix A). The following legislation applies to work within the office environment ( The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 Imdaad offices, hallways and walkways are free from obstructions.
Tidiness is practiced in all premises at all times and staff members can able to move around safely. ( The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 Imdaad assesses DSE workstations and generally ensures the computer users are in well positioned and trainings have been provided to minimise risks. ( The Work at Height Regulations 2005 Ladders are used provided for work activities in high levels and to retrieve items from storage racking. Imdaad is keeping a register to record the dates of inspection, defects and repair. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) Imdaad provides manual handling aid equipment to avoid the need for staff members carrying out lifting that involves a risk of injury. ( The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 Imdaad has a system of conducting test and maintaining electrical equipments in good condition. PAT testing is done every two years or if a new plug connection has been set up. 4. OFFICE RISK 4. 1 COMMON OFFICE RISKS(see Appendix B) Display Screen Equipment RISK
Office Staff have been found seating in a bad position forces them to stoop, bend, twist and reach over the computers. Where the pressure becomes excessive, this reaction will occur. It is a significant cause of illness and disease and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other indicators of organisational underperformance – including human error. OUTCOME This results in administrative staff members suffering from back pain or aches such as Upper limb disorders (ULDs) or Repetitive strain injuries (RSI).
Risk Rating: LOW – Risk reduction measures should normally be implemented within six months Slip, Trips and Falls RISK The office can only accommodate minimal administration activity and this is the reason why build up of unnecessary items are practiced. Obstructions and objects left lying around unnoticed. Due to the busy schedules of staff members, neglecting to maintain a good housekeeping has been foreseen. The washroom floor appeared to be in good condition yet still felt slippery even when the tiles are dry. When just small amounts of water got onto the floor it was found to be slippery.
Trailing electrical and data cables have been scattered as portable equipments consumed space underneath the working tables. Archive files are stacked on shelves. Staff members are overreaching and stooping to retrieve files from above head. OUTCOME Staff may be injured if they trip over objects or slip on spillages. OUTCOME Struck by falling objects during storage and retrieval of files from above head height. Risk Rating: LOW -. Risk reduction measures should normally be implemented within six months. Manual Handling RISK Delivery of goods and materials are initially loaded in the office.
Staff members are assisting in handling and carrying boxes to Storage room which require them to bend and twist their bodies. OUTCOME Staff will suffer from bad posture when forcing twisting of body in lifting heavy objects. Risk Rating: MEDIUM -. Risk reduction measures should normally be implemented within three months. Electricity RISK The overloading and misuse of electrical equipment by staff. OUTCOME A single socket has been found with multiple plugging. Staff members have been using 2 pin plug forced into 3 pin socket which may lead to shock or burns. Risk Rating: MEDIUM -.
Risk reduction measures should normally be implemented within three months. 4. 2 CONTROL MEASURES The following topics relate to workplace safety control measures that have been found in the office (see Appendix B). DSE VDU’s and DSE are reviewed annually by sending a DSE assessment form to computer users. Existing control measure: Staff members who are experiencing discomforts in a workstation have been issued with adjustable chairs, mouse pads or back cushion if necessary. Control Level: Medium SLIPS, TRIPS AND FALLS EHS inductions have been conducted for all staff since day 1.
Basic awareness such as Slips, trips, and falls, Chemical/hazardous substances, Noise at work, Manual handling, PPE, Safe start and Risk. Existing control measure: Staff members keep walkways clear of obstructions and maintaining good housekeeping. Hazardous materials are locked in a storage room. Safety posters and signs are installed inside the office. Control Level: Medium MANUAL HANDLING Operations staff have received adequate information on the proper handling of tools. Safe system at work has been implemented and assessments are done before commencing to work.
Existing control measure: Buddy system(2staff members) in lifting heavy boxes. Trolley has been placed in a store room as an aid. Permit to work system has been implemented to all types of high risk jobs. Control level: Medium ELECTRICITY All electrical units and portable appliances are registered and tested. Existing control Measure: Electrical equipments have unique appliance number registered to easily identify defective units and be replaced with a new item. All portable appliances are PAT tested and have PASS marked on it. Control Measure: Medium 5. RECOMMENDATIONS
A well designed and hazard free office is one which offers complete comfort to the Imdaad staff members during work, without them having to over reach or use awkward posture or having the need to stand or sit for long times. In order to make the office environment comfortable and hazard free, these are some steps that can be taken (see Appendix C). WORKING SPACE Staff members need adequate working space to carry out the tasks they are responsible for. This means they need sufficient space to move about the work area and to access their work stations safely (see Figure 1).
WORKSTATION DESIGN Workstations must be suitable and must be arranged so that each task can be carried out safely. Materials and frequently used equipment or controls should be within easy reach without undue bending or stretching (see Figure 2). HOUSEKEEPING The layout of office furniture and equipment should be such that people can move freely between desks and equipment without the possibility of bumping or tripping over items (see figure 3). DISPLAY SCREEN EQUIPMENT DSE has become one of the general kinds of work equipment.
The common complains of aches and pains are upper limb disorders (ULDs) or repetitive strain injuries (RSI) (see figure 4). MANUAL HANDLING Office staff will be regularly involved in handling items in the office but in most cases these will not pose a significant risk. Most items will be relatively small and easy to handle (see figure 5). ELECTRICAL SAFETY Office electrical equipment should be checked for safety at least every 2 years and a dated test label applied. Staff should not use electrical equipment that is damaged, does not have a test label on it or is out of date (see figure 6). . CONCLUSIONS The office provides a safe environment and accident rates are low. In fact, about low percent of the accidents at work involving staff happen in public areas such as residential buildings, street, stairs and areas outside the Administration office. Even though common beliefs that the office work is relatively safe, many hazards exist which cause most of injuries and health problems each year among office workers. Today’s new offices are significantly different from the office environment from the previous years.
Cleaning procedures and equipments have varied from sweeping with a broomstick to buffing the floor using automated machine. As a result, office workers are faced with many more hazards. In addition to typical hazards such as a slippery floor or an open file drawer, the office may also contain hazards such as poor/flickering lighting, noise, poorly designed furniture and equipment. Even the nature of office work itself has produced a stress-related symptoms and Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include problems such as pains in the neck and back, eyestrain and a feeling of tension and irritability.
To this end, this generic risk assessment has been prepared to provide you with information on the key office environment hazards and the controls necessary to reduce the risk of injury. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Office Background Before commencing on the report, it was vital to have a complete understanding of the risks associated with Office workstation and the control measures that could be implemented in the workplace to mitigate the risks. It was also essential to be aware of all relevant legislation and guidance relating to office safety.
It was thought that control measures recommended in such documents could have shaped the safety systems Imdaad offices. The Health and safety at Work Act 1974 HSE books HMSO Section 2:1 http://www. hse. gov. uk/legislation/hswa. htm Management of health and safety at work regulations ACOP 1999 HSE books HMSO Section 3 www. hse. gov. uk/pubns/hsc13. pdf 2. 1 Office Activities This section covers general information about the location, number of Imdaad staff members, types of works, basic information about the company’s safety management system. General health and safety www. hse. gov. uk/pubns/books/esentials. tm 3. Legislation One of the aims of the report is to determine the extent to which staff members are complying with relevant management legislation. This section listed eight legislations. Health and Safety legislation www. hse. gov. uk/legistlation/index. htm The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 HSG90 HSE Books 200 ISBN 0 7 76 2602 4 The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 www. hse. gov. uk/pubns/indg244. pdf The Work at Height Regulations 2005 www. hse. gov. uk/pubns/indg401. pdf The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 www. hse. gov. k/contact/faqs/manualhandling. htm The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 www. hse. gov. uk/lau/lacs/19-3. htm The Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) www. hse. gov. uk/riddor/ 4. Office Risks The objective of the summarising office activity was to create a list of all control measures that could potentially reduce the inherent risk posed by workstation tasks. The EHS representative undertook the session and was encouraged to use previous experience from site investigations and research as well as knowledge gained from Health and safety trainings to create the equired list of risks and control measures. Risk Assessment http://hse. gov. uk/risk/ Five steps to risk assessment www. hse. gov. uk/pubs/indg163. pdf Example Risk Assessments http://hse. gov. uk/risk/casestudies/index. htm Risk Assessment – Office Work http://www. hse. gov. uk/risk/casestudies/office. htm Electricity www. hse. gov. uk/electricity/index. htm Manual Handling www. hse. gov. uk/msd/index. htm Slips and trips www. hse. gov. uk/slips/mappingtool. pdf www. hse. gov. uk/pubns/indg225. pdf Stress www. hse. gov. uk/stress/index. htm
Work at height The Work at Height Regulations 2005 -A brief guide www. hse. gov. uk/pubns/indg401. pdf Work-related upper limb disorders www. hse. gov. uk/msd/experience. htm Working with VDus www. hse/gov. uk/pubns/indg36. pdf APPENDIX A Legal Responsibilities Everyone at work has the right to work in a safe and healthy environment and has the right to play in making workplaces safe and healthy. Imdaad staff members have a duty to follow health and safety rules and regulations and to protect their own and other people’s health and safety at work.
The Workplace especially in relation to adequate lighting, ventilation, temperature, space per person and keeping floors free of anything which could cause someone to slip, trip or fall. Insufficiency should be reported to Manager or EHS for prompt action. A poor environment is likely to lead to minor illnesses and absenteeism, and those affected are likely to work at less than the optimum efficiency. Therefore, legislation requires a risk assessment to be conducted for all workplace activities including office premises.
Workstation refers to any ground or vicinity used by Imdaad, Imdaad staff members, or visitors in any work setting. Regulations ( The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 aim to protect the health of people who work with DSE. Display screen equipment (DSE) is any work equipment having a screen that displays information ( The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require floors to be suitable for the workplace and work activity, kept in good condition and kept free from obstructions.
Also, people must be able to move around safely. ( The Work at Height Regulations 2005 apply to all work at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. ( The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) set no specific requirements such as weight limits. ( The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 this circular aims to highlight the key issues on inspection and enforcement for inspectors. It is not comprehensive. Limited by the definition of danger and injury solely to risks arising from an electrical source and does not include
APPENDIX B How was the Risk assessment done? The EHS representative followed the guidance in Five steps to risk assessment. 1. To identify the hazards, the EHS representative: • looked around what physical area that the risk assessment was covered. • walked around the office and listed each hazard situation identified as being present • considered what control measures are currently in place. • Interviewed staff to learn about their opinions and concerns regarding safety at work. Informed staff members to put safety into practice. 2.
The EHS representative reviewed who are exposed to the hazard and noted how likely and severely to cause harm. 3. For each hazard identified, control measures are already in place and evaluated if extremely effective. 4. Findings have been recorded and informed staff to practice safety at work all the time. 5. The assessment will be forwarded to EHS manager for further re-evaluation. QUALITATIVE RANKING OF RISK Risk can be rated using a number of simple systems that can help determine the level of risk action priorities. Risk severity = hazard x risk Likelihood/ |negligible |minor |major |death |multiple |catastrophic | |severity | | | | | | | |Almost Certain |3 |4 |5 |5 |6 |6 | |Very Likely |2 |3 |5 |5 |6 |6 | |Probable |1 |2 |4 |5 |5 |6 | |Possible |1 |2 |4 |5 |5 |5 | |Slight chance |1 |2 |3 |4 |5 |5 | |Unlikely or |1 |2 |3 |4 |4 |4 | |negligible | | | | | | | In determining the likelihood of an event occurring, account needs to be taken of both the chance of it happening each time the task is carried out and the frequency/regularity of that task.
Hence an infrequently carried out task which entails a near certainty of injury would be high risk. Similarly a task which is carried out very frequently but for which the likelihood of mishap for each occasion is low, would also be high risk since it is inevitable that the mishap will occur within a realistic time period. For each control measure category there are three levels, each described as Low, Medium and High. |LOW |MEDIUM |HIGH | |Effective control measure |Common effective control measure |Most effective control measure | RISK |EXISTING CONTROL |FURTHER PREVENTIVE |RISK LEVEL BEFORE |RISK LEVEL AFTER |TIME SCALE | | |MEASURE |ACTION |RECOMMEN-DATION |RECOMMEN-DATION | | |Display Screen |(Computer alignment, |Ensure staff to have |Medium |Low |Should be implemented| |Equipment |chair height, glare |frequent breaks and | | |effective | | |have been assessed. |stretch away from the | | |immediately. | | |(Footrest has been |computers. | | | | | |provided. | | | | | | | | | | | |Slips, Trips and |(Office is cleaned |Maintain good |Medium |Low |Should be implemented| |Falls |every morning. |housekeeping | | |effective | | | |throughout the day. | | |immediately. | | | | | | | | | |( Buddy system in | |Medium |Low |. |Manual Handling |lifting boxes |Use of manual aid such| | |Should be implemented| | | |as trolley or divide | | |effective | | | |items not to heavy to | | |immediately. | | |( Electrical |lift. | | | | |Electricity |equipments are | |Low |Low | | | |tested. |Inform staff to report| | |Should be implemented| | | |any damage or worn out| | |within 6 months. | | | |cables. | | | |Reporting Accidents |( Accident form for | |Medium |Low | | | |documentary records |Inform staff no blame | | |Should be implemented| | | |policy if accidents | | |effective | | | |have been reported | | |immediately. | | | |right after the | | | | | | |incident. | | | | APPENDIX C Office Layout
Staff members need sufficient space to store work equipment including files and documents that they need to use for their work. Work spaces that are perceived by staff members to be cramped have a negative effect on job satisfaction and efficiency, and on long-term sickness absence. Figure 1 Chair should be adjustable to provide support for the lower back, and a footrest should be provided for any worker who cannot comfortably place his or her feet flat on the floor. The worker should be seated at a suitable height in relation to the work surface. Figure 2 Electrical equipment should be properly positioned to allow good access to the plug sockets.
Office furniture should be arranged to minimise the number of cables crossing the floor. Where possible, tuck cables underneath desks to avoid tripping. The walkways should be free of obstructions. Figure 3 The aches and pains can be avoided if workstation is well set up and frequent breaks for heavy work. Figure 4 If manual handling can’t be avoided, consider using manual handling aids. Figure 5 Office staff should not attempt to carry out electrical repairs themselves but should use the services of a competent electrician. Equipments should be turned off at the end of the working day, particularly computer monitors which have been known to catch fire due to overheating. Figure 6