How healthy is your workplace? An office environment might seem altogether safe and comfortable. But potential hazards can still be lurking. Not only might they threaten your employees’ well-being, but if employees are unhealthy, they are also unproductive.
Don’t wait until an accident, injury, or illness happens. Take the initiative to enhance workplace safety. Here are seven office health and safety tips to make your employees (and your company) thrive!
Health and Safety in the Office: 7 Strategies to Promote Wellness
1. Get everyone on the same page with a workplace safety plan
A key part of employee wellness is addressing workplace hazards.
Your employees are firsthand experts on real-life dangers they encounter every day. Schedule a staff meeting to get their input, and discuss these risks. They might include insecure filing cabinets, tripping hazards, dangerous moving objects, or electrical hazards.
Don't only record their answers, but brainstorm together about possible solutions. Test the solutions before officially including them in your office safety guidelines. Then pick someone to follow through and perform regular safety checks to ensure conditions indeed improve.
2. Prevent costly injuries by promoting a healthy sitting posture
Office settings typically mean prolonged sitting for employees. Advise them on sitting basics: The pelvis should slightly tilt forward, with the buttocks should press against the back of the chair. The feet lie flat on the floor, with the knees at hip height.
Be sure to rest the elbows or forearms on the chair or desk. Eye level should aim for the center of the computer display.
Chair preferences can vary widely. While most people need lumbar support, some benefit from standing desks or alternative chairs, such as active chairs or the Norwegian kneeling chair. Provide the best chairs that you can afford—and let employees pay the difference if they want specific pricier items.
(Related post: How to Exercise at Work)
3. Prepare your team for the unexpected: Educate them on first aid and CPR
Rapid response can make a big difference in injuries and medical emergencies. Offer first aid and CPR training and certification courses for employees.
Purchase a complete first aid kit for each floor that your company occupies—and tell employees where to find them. Make sure that items are clearly labeled. Do regular inventory counts and restock supplies that are running low or past their expiry dates.
4. Keep your team productive by encouraging proper eye care
Nowadays, office work means staring at a computer for hours on end. Some people end up with eye fatigue and strain, and this can make it hard to focus on work. But simple breaks and equipment can lessen potential issues.
Tell employees to remember the three 20s: After 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, look 20 feet away. (Set a desktop or cell phone reminder to make it a habit.) In addition, occasionally take a longer break and do eye relaxation exercises.
To reduce eye strain, install an anti-bluelight screen filter, such as f.lux or Apple Night Shift, to office digital devices. For workplace lighting, use both overhead and desktop task lighting, a combination proven to be visually optimal.
5. Address poor environmental factors to avoid "Sick Building Syndrome"
Be aware of "sick building syndrome" (SBS), a condition typically marked by headache, fatigue, and respiratory distress, affecting office workers. The causes include harmful or stressful environmental factors such as poor heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, chemicals in building materials, and molds.
In addition to selecting a high-quality worksite and checking on building maintenance, regularly assess the office air temperature and adjust for comfort. Provide flu vaccinations and other health screenings for employees. Encourage people to take sick days off if they feel unwell, to prevent them from spreading cold and flu viruses.
6. Create a pleasant environment by maintaining a clean office space
Establish firm policies for cleanliness in the workplace. Emphasize that it's everyone's responsibility to keep the office clean and tidy. Pay special attention to the kitchen: Wash dirty dishes daily. Ensure that the fridge and cupboards are regularly cleared out.
Also, discreetly promote personal hygiene among employees. No one should arrive at work with contagious illnesses or unwashed clothing. Provide hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes—and recommend cleaning shared items, such as meeting tables, desks, and keyboards, between uses.
7. Keep employees focused and comfortable with a fragrance-free policy
Many people are sensitive to fragrances, whether in perfumes, personal care products, or office cleaning supplies. Fragrances can trigger headaches, dizziness, or allergic reactions.
Banning fragrances can be a touchy matter. Address all employees’ concerns about this topic openly and honestly. If you point out the debilitating effects that fragrances can cause, people will understand why such a policy is needed.
Although not always top of mind for office workers, it’s critical to emphasize the importance of health and safety in the workplace. Doing so will help you prevent costly and disruptive injuries, accidents, and illnesses. Getting everyone on the same page about potential hazards, and educating employees on how to avoid them is key to maintaining a healthy, productive workforce. By focusing on workplace wellness, your team and your company will thrive!
Have another great workplace health and safety tip? Let us know in the comments what’s worked well for you, or if you have a great idea you want to share.