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The average office may not contain any obvious dangers, but look closely and you may start to find some hidden hazards. If you work by yourself, you may be willing to take the risk, but if you’ve got employees, you may want to consider adding extra protection. Here are a few common dangers found in offices.
Lack of fire safety features
Every workplace is required by law to have an easily-accessible fire exit. This should be clearly signposted. Extra features such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers should also be invested in. Your local fire service will most likely visit the premises at some point and give it an inspection – if you fail to provide adequate fire safety the premises may be shut down.
Falling over trip hazards is the most common causes of personal injury lawsuits from employees. Make sure that there aren’t any obvious ways that people may fall and have an accident. Trailing cables and upturned edges of carpets are two examples. Make sure that you supply a wet floor sign to anyone cleaning with a mop, as this too can be a common cause for a lawsuit.
Toxic building materials
If your office is located in an old building, make sure that there aren’t any toxic materials lurking in the walls. Asbestos was used in many buildings as an insulating material, but it has since proven to be toxic if particles are inhaled. If you think there’s asbestos in the property, it could be worth investing a company that can offer asbestos removal. Lead paint is another commonly found toxic material in old building which may need to be removed as flecks of paints could similarly be ingested and cause severe poisoning.
If your office has an air conditioning unit, make sure that it’s cleaned out annually, ideally after winter. Air conditioning units can build up with bacteria and dust, especially in the winter months when not in use. This can get pumped out into the air causing your employees to get sick. In extreme cases it has been linked to legionnaire’s disease – a deadly lung disease. You should similarly check your office for mould, as this can cause similar respiratory problems.
Office keyboards are breeding grounds for germs. Studies have found that your office keyboard may host 20,000 times as much bacteria as your average toilet seat. Crumbs in keyboards have also been proven to attract rodents. Make sure that everyone’s keyboard is thoroughly cleaned once a year to avoid this bacteria causing illness (sharing keyboards is thought to spread illness around the office). This should involve taking off all the keys and cleaning beneath them as this is where most the bacteria is likely to be lurking.