Potential Health and Safety Hazards in Offices

What are office health and safety hazards and risks?

Simply defined, an office hazard is any aspect in an office that may cause health and safety risks and that has the potential to harm. A risk is a likelihood, or chance that an incident will occur.

Some hazards are more likely to exist in some offices than in others, depend on the work that is being done and the equipment used. However, there are hazards present in each workplace despite the organisation’s industry, size, or nature of business.

Introduction to Health and Safety Hazards

The most common thought, when considering health and safety hazards, is that they are predominantly found on construction sites, industrial plants, factories, and mines. However, the office environment presents its own potential health and safety hazards that people may not be aware of.

All adequate health and safety begin with a risk assessment. These are conducted by, or on behalf of, employers to recognize and try to prevent hazards.

Every organisation must therefore carry out a risk assessment to address hazards before they turn into risks that could lead to injuries and damage to equipment.

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Slips, trips, and falls

These are the most common hazards across most workplaces, not just offices. They account for around 30% of workplace injuries according to statistics. They are caused by several things including, but not limited to exposed areas, obstructed walkways, loose flooring, cluttered areas, and numerous others.

To identify these, the employer can make use of a hazard checklist, which is a great tool that can help employers and employees recognise where such hazards most commonly occur, and how to resolve them.

Cables that are exposed must be securely taped and covered. Where they cross walkways, they must be clearly marked and indicated. Workspaces must be kept clean and tidy and obstructions removed.

Slips can be addressed with measures such as carpeting, warning signs, and others. Should spills occur, they must be adequately cleaned immediately, and signage used to indicate wet floors or surfaces.

Ergonomic injuries

There is a general misconception that office work is less straining than manual labour. however, office work, involving employees that sit down for long periods of time, can be as serious as any other injuries.

When employees do not sit correctly or adjust their chairs and equipment properly, it can lead to numerous strains and other injuries.

Work Stress

This is a mental factor that is not always considered. It is caused when employees are under substantial amounts of pressure which not all can cope with.

Employers must address this issue by ensuring that workloads match the rate of work and skills of employees and that employees are provided with adequate time to rest by ensuring that hours comply with legal requirements.

Employers must also ensure a safe platform for employees to report such problems, where they can be discussed and resolved.


Most office employees are exposed to display screen equipment (DSE) such as laptops and desktop computers for long periods of time. This can result in eye strain or similar problems if not adequately addressed and managed.

By wearing the correct glasses, taking frequent breaks, ensuring correct seating and position, and making sure that the screen is the correct distance and height, these hazards can be reduced.

Fire Safety

This is a crucial part of any work environment. Office health and safety can be improved, maintained, and ensured by ensuring that employees have adequate training and that there are adequate precautions in place.

This includes ensuring that power cords are in good working conditions, power outlets are not overloaded, that electrical heaters are monitored closely, and that frequent inspection is done on all electrical equipment by a professional.


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How can potential health and safety hazards in offices be monitored, reduced, or eliminated?

The most effective way to ensure effective and efficient office health and safety is to ensure that an adequate OHS programme is implemented and that it is managed correctly.

By conducting frequent office walkthroughs to observe safety protocols, hazards can be identified, and plans made to minimize or eliminate the hazards and risks in a particular area.

A checklist can be used for effective recordkeeping and for comparison to indicate improvement. By conducting a risk assessment, all the hazards and risks can be identified, and the proper measures can be taken. The risks identified can be the points on the checklists that are frequently checked to ensure that office health and safety is managed.

How does SafetyWallet support its subscribers?

By subscribing to SafetyWallet, subscribers are provided with the support and assistance that they need in efficiently managing their health and safety.

This is done through a comprehensive OHS programme which is implemented, the provision of a variety of Health and Safety e-Learning short course training, and the conducting of health and safety audits to ensure continuous compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and all other relevant regulations, laws, and by-laws.

Posted date: 23rd Feb 2021