Office Safety: Is Your Workplace Up to Code?

Office safety and compliance with safety codes is a primary requirement upon all employers. Creating office safety procedures and standards is actually relatively simple.

Office safety basics

Important: If you're in any doubt about the requirements of the safety code in your area, get professional help immediately. Near enough is rarely if ever good enough. You could be liable for fines, or even closure, if you're not compliant with safety requirements. 

The areas covered by safety codes are:

  • Premises: Safe condition of the building and state of repair.
  • Electrical: Properly installed, safe wiring and connections.
  • Fire safety: Fire hazard issues, fire extinguishers, sprinklers, smoke detectors and appointment of fire wardens.
  • Chemical hazards: Any chemical on site which may represent a danger. (Also covered by hazardous goods legislation.)
  • Access issues: Access for people with impaired mobility, and presence of safe emergency exits, fire escapes constructed to safety standards.
  • Sanitation: Cleanliness, waste disposal, hygienic working conditions in general.
  • First aid procedures: Ability to deal with emergencies and minor issues.
  • Safety issues reporting procedures: Businesses must have a clear chain of command responsibility for dealing with any reports of safety issues, injuries, or events. Some medical conditions may also be relevant.
  • Evacuation procedures: A complete evacuation plan, with trained staff (usually the fire wardens) able to conduct evacuations to a designated place of safety.
  • Public safety: The place of business is responsible for the safety of all visitors. 

A clean, safe, workplace with proper safety procedures in place is what's required. It's that simple. Use that as your criteria for your workplace.

Creating a safe, compliant office safety routine

 Make absolutely sure you get a current, up to date version of the safety code from the local authority's website.

You will need to conduct an internal safety audit on the categories listed above:  

Inspect the premises for defects. Conduct an estimate of repairs required. Seal off any areas which appear unsafe until repaired.

Any defective or shoddy electrical system should be taken out of service immediately. Arrange for replacement.

Fire safety:
Extinguishers, sprinklers, smoke detectors and fire hoses should be in perfect working order. Replace defective equipment ASAP. The employer is in breach of the safety code if these matters aren't rectified.

Chemical hazards:
All hazardous chemicals must be stored according to the relevant legislation. Failure to do so is a breach of the safety code.

Access issues:
Clear, unobstructed access to emergency exits is a requirement of the safety code.

Any deficiencies in standards of sanitation must be rectified immediately. These are potentially serious health hazards, and can attract serious legal consequences.

First aid procedures:
At least one trained, accredited staff member must be designated as a first aid officer. This is very important in emergencies, and can reduce risk to the employer.

Safety issues reporting procedures
: Create a chain of command for reporting purposes. The business must record all safety issues, and document its actions.

Evacuation procedures:
Staff must be trained in evacuation procedures. Emergency exit plans must be plainly visible in all workplace and public areas.

Public safety:
All publicly accessible areas on the premises must be in safe condition, and contain no risks to health or safety.

As you go through your safety code on each area, you'll see how all these factors integrate into a single unified stream of safety procedures. Safety codes save lives and give peace of mind.