Queensland’s laws regarding occupational hazard:
Occupation hazard and safety in an office is an outcome of a continuous process that involves the employer, the health and safety representatives, and the employees. Section 19 of The Work Health and Safety Act, 2011 (the Act, hereafter) of Queensland puts the onus on an employer or business owner to ensure the safety of their employees.
As an employer, you have control over several aspects of workplace safety. For instance, you can choose office furniture in brisbane that minimises the ergonomic risks, you can train your employees in safety protocols, and you can design the workplace layout to minimise accidents.
Here is what you can do to ensure you go beyond the call of duty to provide your workers with a safe and happy environment to work in, so they can productively contribute to the success of your business.
Step 1: Identify the hazard
The Act defines a ‘hazard’ as a potential to cause harm, including injury or illness. Your first step is to identify the potential causes of damage in your office. Musculoskeletal Disorders are the most significant vocational hazard faced by desk workers. Over 4 million Australians suffer from chronic back pain as a result of improper seating. Specifically, your office could pose one or more of the following hazards:
- Mechanical: It includes the risk of heavy equipment tipping over and harming a person – for instance, filing cabinets, screens, and metal shelves. Further, carelessly strewn items on the floor – such as disorganised cables, could lead to a tripping hazard.
- Physical: It includes the poorly conceived aspects of tasks that can cause damage to a worker’s body. For instance, glare from electronic screens, burn hazards from photocopiers and printers, and exposure to the repetitive task. Additionally, the usage of improper office furniture in brisbanecould attract penalties from the Act if it results in spinal degeneration of your workers.
- Electrical: Overloaded power outlets can lead to circuit shorting, causing electrical harm to the employees.
- Psychological: Most importantly, you must ensure that your employees do not feel undue pressure to work or do not feel appreciated. It may lead to a costly lawsuit.
Step 2: Assess the Risk:
Risk is the probability of exposure to any of the identified hazards. In this step, you must evaluate the frequency, level, and pattern of exposure. If you have risk control measures in place, this is the time when you appraise their effectiveness.
Step 3: Implement Risk Control Measures:
The Act expects you to apply ‘reasonably practicable’ risk control measures, failing which you could face criminal liability and up to 5 years of imprisonment. Thus, you must know the likelihood of a risk and the degree of harm it can cause – but most importantly, you must communicate the same to your employees. Where risks cannot be eliminated, the Act suggests that you replace the task with something less hazardous, or you isolate the area with enclosures to reduce exposure, or you provide mechanical aids to mitigate the risk.
Step 4: Monitor and Evaluate the Risk Control measures
Finally, you must monitor how well your control measures work. You could perform tests to see if the danger is eliminated. If not, the Act expects you to go back to Step 1 and work on the control measure till it improves.
Here are some actionable tips on minimising the risk of office-related Musculoskeletal Disorders. They are a result of maintaining a static posture for long durations, which results in muscle fatigue.
- For instance, your telemarketing executive could pull a muscle in her neck from holding the phone between her ear and shoulder for long hours. You could eliminate the risk by providing her with a functional headset.
- Your employees could develop spinal issues from improper seating arrangements. Provide them with adjustable ergonomic chairs that have good back support. The employee must be able to sit straight, with their elbows parallel to the floor while operating a keyboard on the desk in front of them.
- Additionally, consider facilitating a dynamic work environment – encourage employees to move once every hour, and stretch their muscles. The office layout and lighting also plays an important role in boosting the morale of employees. Dreary offices could affect your workers’ productivity negatively.
Queensland’s Work Health and Safety Act aims to improve workplace safety. It encourages you to design the office in collaboration with your employees and a competent consultant. Provide your employees with a safe and healthy work environment to improve the overall performance of your business.
Alison Lurie is a farmer of words in the field of creativity. She is an experienced independent content writer with a demonstrated history of working in the writing and editing industry. She is a multi-niche content chef who loves cooking new things.