Designing a Safe and Functional Office

Eliminate On-The-Job Injury And Prolong Comfort And Productivity

office workers typing on computers

Without a properly functional work space, the possibility for ergonomic hazards in the workplace increases.  They are the hardest to spot since you don’t always immediately notice the strain on your body or the harm that these hazards pose.  Short-term exposure may result in “sore muscles” the next day or in the days following the exposure, but long term exposure can result in serious long-term illness.  Ergonomic hazards can not only affect the worker: the employer can suffer slower productivity, lower morale in staff, and higher disability and insurance claims.

Safety and comfort should be considered equally to visual aesthetics when it comes to designing work spaces.  Learn how to design a safe and functional office space in this article.

Keeping a safe work environment involves thoughtfully choosing the interior materials, lighting and layout. It also includes ensuring the work space that you spend the majority of your time in is designed to support a neutral ergonomic position for your body to prevent chronic pain and discomfort. In addition to these physical elements, staff members should take measures to ensure cleanliness and develop emergency protocols to keep all members safe in the work space.

We can create a safe work space by considering these three elements:

  1. Ergonomics
  2. Environment
  3. Safety Protocols

1. Ergonomics

The way your work environment is arranged can have huge long term effects on your body. A properly set up desk is a good way to prevent injury and create a more comfortable space for prolonged working.

How to set up your work space:

Your joints should be as close to 90% as possible to create a neutral seated position. Tip: If you need to raise your chair to accommodate the standard desk height you can also raise your feet. If possible, standing up frequently and looking away from your computer monitor may also increase comfort at your work station.

Ergonmics of Desk

How to set up a desk for proper ergonomic safety.

2. Work Environment

There are steps that you can take to ensure and safe office environment. This may involve the interior design of an office and also the procedures enforced among the office staff to maintain the office.

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Layout: It is important to have a well laid out office space with ample walkways and clear means of egress. If an emergency does happen, it is imperative that all staff can reach an emergency exit easily and quickly.

Lighting: Designers consider lighting an important safety element within an office. It is important to have enough light to avoid trips and falls.

  • Corridors and stairwells also require ample lighting for quick exiting and to avoid trips as well.
  • Well lit garages and entrances result in fewer high risk zones for attacks.
  • Enough light at a work space will also help to avoid accidents an eye fatigue.

Materials: appropriate materials should be selected throughout an office space.

  • Anti-slip materials should be used where people are walking.
  • Anti-slip or grip tape may be use on stair treads and very high traffic areas.
  • Walk-off mats at the entrances of buildings serve to eliminate slipping caused by wet shoes.

3. Safe protocols to uphold

The office staff can ensure safety by enforcing protocols within the work environment.

Education: Safety leaders can enforce education that provides awareness of emergency action plans such as exit routes and safety meeting location.

Workspace: Staff can be upheld to a clean workspace to ensure a safe exit path from the building

Knowledge: Having staff with first aid training could prevent serious long term injury to employees and may even save lives.

Custodial protocol: Insuring that spills are cleaned up promptly and proper warning signs are used for wet areas to avoid slips and falls.

Creating a safe work environment involves the thoughtful use of design of interior materials, lighting and layout. Your work space should also support a neutral ergonomic position for your body in order to prevent chronic pain and discomfort. In addition to these physical elements, staff members should take measures to ensure cleanliness and develop emergency protocols to keep all members safe in the work space.


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