Safe Work Month is held each year in October and is a national event that encourages all working Queenslanders to get involved in safety at their workplace; helping to reduce the incidence of death, injury and disease.
The majority of working Queenslanders head off to work, complete their day and then head back home maybe a little tired or dirty, but safe. Tragically though, around 17 Queenslanders die each year as a result of traumatic workplace incidents, and over 5000 suffer a permanent injury.
These deaths and injuries carry with them a devastating impact on workers and their families, colleagues and the broader Queensland community. Safe Work Month is the perfect time to remind people how they can continue to make Queensland workplaces safer.
There are a number of resources that can be found online at the Worksafe Qld website and we encourage all businesses to take time out to better understand their workplace risks and what can be done to minimise these. Follow this link: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/safe-work-month
Know Your Responsibilities
For the People and Culture Managers, the key to supporting the employees and minimising risk is to first have a good awareness of your Workplace Health & Safety responsibilities.
Through the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the Australian Government produced a comprehensive policy outlining the health and safety responsibility of the employer and the employee.
For many of us who work in an office, the hazards in our workplace might not be as obvious as those in high risk work environments, such as building sites and mines, but there are a range of factors with health and safety implications for office workers.
Key risks in the office workplace can include:
As office-based work is one of the fastest growing forms of employment, it is important to recognise issues that may affect the health, safety and well-being of people working in offices. Ergonomics is the study of workplace equipment design or how to arrange and design devices, machines, or work space so that people and things interact safely and efficiently.
Employers are increasingly aware of the importance of ergonomics in offices, particularly in relation to the use of computers and other screen-based equipment. The potential for occupational overuse injuries is the main area of concern. Regular ergonomic checks are important in the prevention of such injuries.
Office ergonomics can help you be more comfortable at work, lower stress, and reduce injuries caused by awkward positions and repetitive tasks. A workstation will be ergonomically acceptable if the alignment of the computer screen, keyboard, person and chair are comfortable and convenient for the worker, requiring no twisting of the head or body.
2. Sedentary Tasks
Office works tends to involve prolonged periods of sitting, which can pose significant risks to workers’ health.
(i)Did you know the people who sit for 11 hours or more a day are 40 per cent more at risk of death than those who sit for less than four hours?
There are a number of preventative measures that are encouraged to reduce this risk. Frequent short breaks from sitting, using the stairs instead of the lift as well as stretching at work can help employees to minimise their risk of injury.
See Comcare's Sedentary Work web page for more guidance.
3. Other environmental factors
Untidy offices with excess equipment, materials in boxes or piles on the floor creates a trip hazard. This could indicate that there is insufficient storage space, insufficient time for storing materials, or just poor management of the work area.
Additionally, cluttered work areas can be a risk especially if the material and clutter is obstructing safe exists from the workplace.
Electric cables across passageways, mats, slippery surfaces (especially in foyers) and storage that requires workers to use step ladders or reach above shoulder height can all raise the risk of people slipping, tripping and falling.
Serious injuries can be sustained as a result of these office risks. Managers should be encouraged to regularly review the environment to identify any potential risks and remedy the situation before an event or injury is sustain to an employee.
Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility. By working together and building awareness, we can reduce the potential risk of injury to our employees and colleagues.
(i)Van der Ploegg, H, Chey, T, Korda, R.J, Banks, E and Bauman, A 2012, 'Sitting Time and All-Cause Mortality Risk in 222 497 Australian Adults', Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(6), pp.494-500. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2174 (Sedentary Work)