Creating a healthy work environment

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Photograph of a 'healthy looking', neat and tidy desk in an office. With a green apple, plant and immaculate laid out stationary.
Do you work in a healthy environment?

A common mistake made by many new office-based small business start-ups is not taking the comfort of its’ staff members into consideration.

This might seem minor in the short-term but the longer term consequences could have an effect on the overall operations and day-to-day running of your company.

The average office worker will spend a large amount of time sitting down and a bad working posture can lead to back problems, which is usually the fault of inadequate office furniture.

Ergonomics, in a practical sense, is simply a way of designing a working environment that people can feel safe and comfortable operating in. Ensuring that the workplace is a comfortable place for your workers is considered good ergonomical practice.

Creating an ergonomic office can reduce to the likelihood of your workers developing physical problems, which could ultimately affect productivity and attendance. This could also see the appearance of compensation claims (ensuring your employer’s liability insurance is up-to-date may help with these costs!).

Office Lighting

It is important to ensure that lighting is indirect and flexible to suit the needs of individuals. Put blinds and shades in suitable places in order to allow your employees to fully control outside light and how it affects their working environment.

Ensuring that your office has natural lighting and an airy feel will also brighten up those dark winter days when your staff members could be affected by the winter blues, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SADs).

Office Seating

A comfortable, adjustable chair is essential for any office worker as a considerable amount of time can be spent in the office. You may wish to consider spending more money on good office chairs as the design and feel will affect the way in which your employees work and for how long.

Ideally office chairs should be able to adjust in the lower back area, as well as able to recline slightly to alleviate pressure from the spine.

Office Workstations

You may wish to remind your employees of the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, they should look 20 feet away (six metres) for 20 seconds to give their eye muscles a break and help increase the rate of blinking.

Also, monitors should be placed between 40 and 76 cm (that’s 16 to 30 inches) away from employees eyes. Monitors that can be angled to suit the user, as well as anti-glare filters can also help to reduce eye-strain and are relatively affordable.

Possibly consider wrist rests for the keyboard and mouse to prevent repetitive strain injury (RSI). This is a very painful condition that can result in a reduction in productivity and possible inability to work.

Office Storage

Having a large number of files, books or general clutter in the office could pose a health and safety risk to your employees as well as giving your office an unprofessional look and feel.

Adequate storage such as filing cabinets, cupboards and desk drawers can all ensure that your office is a pleasant place to be and gives an impression of efficiency and professionalism. Having a clean, uncluttered office will give clients and other visitors a favourable impression of your business.

It’s certainly worth taking all these points into consideration as they could help to make your office a nicer, more comfortable place to work and may also help prevent employers liability and public liability insurance cases being brought against you.

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