Every workplace has hazards. However, there are hazards that are more common depending on which sector your workplace falls under. This month, we are featuring the Office Sector. We will discuss common hazards to look for to give Joint Health and Safety Committees (JHSC) an edge when it comes to spotting and controlling hazards during their monthly workplace inspections and making recommendations to the employer.
Within the office industry, there are many hazards that put both workers and customers at risk. Just because an office setting isn’t full of heavy industrial or lifting equipment, doesn’t mean that there aren’t hazards present that the JHSC should be aware of. For JHSC members, these are the hazards that require the most attention in an office setting:
Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards
Practicing proper housekeeping at the office is essential to controlling slip, trip, and fall hazards. The JHSC should pay special attention to stock/store rooms, printing rooms, areas with poor lighting, spaces where intruders could potentially hide, and hallways. Slip, trip, and fall injuries can be anywhere from minor to catastrophic. If a worker is seriously injured, it may even result in litigation, fines, or convictions from the Ministry of Labour if the employer is found to have been negligent in controlling the hazard and/or following the JHSC’s recommendations.
Workstations need to be ergonomically correct so that workers are not suffering due to poorly designed workstations. Included in this is also factors such as lighting, monitor glare, and phone use. If office workers talk on the phone frequently, headsets should be provided. As well, workers should be given ergonomic desk assessments to ensure that chair height, desk height, keyboard and mouse placement, and monitor height are all correct for the needs of each individual worker. Manual materials handling is also important. Proper lifting techniques and correct tools for the job (for example push carts, dollies, platform ladders, etc.) mitigate the risk of suffering an injury due to strain caused by improper lifting techniques.
Workplace Violence and Harassment Hazards
It is important for the JHSC to consider the risk of harassment and violence from all sources, and not just from within the workplace. Sources include the public, suppliers, co-workers, supervisors/management, and even family members on the work premises. When evaluating the risk of harassment or violence, JHSCs should take care to evaluate the potential risk to workers from all of the sources listed.
Many people are under the mistaking belief that there is no need for WHMIS training when working in an office setting. However, almost all offices use one controlled substance or another – primarily printer ink and/or printer toner. As well, some cleaning chemicals are included under WHMIS. JHSC members should ensure that monthly inspections include ensuring that controlled chemicals are correctly stored and used, that SDS is in a conspicuous location, and that all chemicals are properly labeled.
Lack of Training
Perhaps the most common hazard found in the office industry is lack of training. JHSC members can work with their employer to implement a training program that meets industry requirements and legislative standards. JHSC members may ask random workers in office locations if they’ve received training. If a JHSC member isn’t satisfied with the response, a recommendation for training or re-training can be made to the employer.
Slips, trips, and falls, workplace violence and harassment, WHMIS, ergonomic hazards and lack of training are not the only hazards present in an office workspace. There are many other hazards that the JHSC needs to be mindful of. From knives/box cutters to dangerous chemicals to fork or pallet truck operation, JHSC members in every sector need to remain cognizant of hazards in their work environment and feel confident in identifying and controlling them.
OSG Has Been Certifying JHSC Members for Over 20 Years
If you have questions about the JHSC’s role during or after workplace inspections, or how to identify common hazards in your office, OSG can help. We have been successfully training JHSC members for over 20 years, and we are the largest private provider of JHSC committee certification training in Ontario. When it comes to JHSC – we know our stuff! Call 1.800.815.9980 to speak to one of our health and safety experts today or view our JHSC Part 1 or Part 2 training online now.
Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordination
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