Classic Warning Signs of a Potentially Dangerous Office Workplace

PUBLISHED 05 Apr 2016

At Gerard Malouf and Partners we’re used to regularly handling worker compensation claims across a wide variety of industries. While these cases are often  associated with sectors such as construction and mining in the popular imagination, a significant amount of the claims we handle as compensation lawyers involve normal office jobs.

Employers naturally have a duty of care to those who work in their offices, but you should be proactive about your own safety as a matter of course. An ounce of prevention, as the saying goes, is worth a pound of cure.

In this article we’ll detail some classic warning signs of potentially dangerous office workplaces that you should be on the lookout for – along with tips on how to raise workplace concerns in a responsible and professional manner.

Begin by checking environmental factors
The general ambience of an office environment can tell you a lot about its overall safety – or lack of it. Be on the lookout for any of the following problems:

  • Poor lighting: Adequate illumination and access to natural light are essential for both healthy eyes and avoiding workplace accidents.
  • Excessive noise: Acceptable levels obviously vary by industry, and office workers are unlikely to be exposed to genuinely damaging levels of noise. That said, exposure to constant disturbing sounds can be a risk factor for both chronic stress and workplace accidents.
  • Low air quality: As with noise, office workers are unlikely to encounter extreme air pollution on the job, but you should be on the lookout for unwanted odours and micro-biological or chemical contaminants. Photocopier toner, for example, is a classic  culprit in office environments.

Assess layout, workstations, and equipment
If general environment factors look in order, the next places to check for warning signs are in general office layout, workstation design, and use of equipment. Be on the lookout for the following types of issues:

  • Poorly designed layout: Cramped, disorganised spaces present an obvious health and safety risk. Issues such as overcrowding, inadequate storage space, poor surfacing, and blocked access points are all red flags and can lead to otherwise easily avoidable cuts and slip-fall injuries.
  • Sub-optimal workstations and equipment: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) continue to be rife in Australia and ergonomically poor workstation setups are a major contributor to this worrying fact. Insist on comfortable seating appropriate to the task at hand, ergonomically designed keyboards, and monitor stands to reduce neck strain. You should also be sure to take adequate breaks to avoid muscle fatigue and injury.

Don’t be afraid to raise concerns
As an employee, staying up to speed on the topic of office workplace safety is very much in your interests. Start by consulting resources such as the Officewise programme from Comcare and never be afraid to bring up concerns as soon as you have them. When doing so, make sure you are providing clear examples of the risk factors you’ve identified, and document your concerns in writing throughout.

Thanks to legislation such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1991, employers across Australia are obliged to work closely with their employees on safety, provide Health and Safety Management Arrangements (HSMAs), and keep detailed records of injuries and accidents – by clearly articulating your concerns, you help keep your working environment safer for all and potentially head off issues before they become serious.

If you do find yourself in a situation where you believe you have a potential worker compensation claim, be sure to immediately contact our team of professional injury lawyers for a no-obligation consultation on your case.

As leading Accredited Specialists in Personal Injury, we’ve successfully handled an enormous amount of cases involving people injured at work through no fault of their own. Our expert workers compensation lawyers are ready to fight your corner and provide the financial, medical, and expert resources you need to win your case. Contact us today and we’re happy to provide a completely free initial consultation and consider your case on a no-win, no-fee basis.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.