As we know, every employer has an obligation to provide office workers with safe working conditions. This involves many regulations that govern how the office space should look like to ensure the protection of health and life. What are the basic occupational health and safety regulations in the office and what are the principles associated with them?
The Obligation of Occupational Health and Safety Training for Employees
Every employer is obliged to provide their employees, regardless of their employment status, with occupational health and safety training at least once every 6 years. This is necessary so that each employee is familiar with the most important safety rules. In Poland, this law is regulated by the Labour Code, a mianowicie:
Article 237 of the Labour Code
- 3. The employer provides appropriate conditions for conducting consultations, especially ensuring that they take place during working hours. Employees or their representatives have the right to remuneration for the time not worked due to participation in the consultations.
Article 304 of the Labour Code
- 1. The employer is obliged to ensure safe and hygienic working conditions (…) for individuals performing work on a basis other than employment in the workplace or in a place designated by the employer, as well as for individuals conducting business activity on their own account in the workplace or in a place designated by the employer.
Consequences of Lack of Occupational Health and Safety Training for Employees and Employers
Occupational health and safety training is mandatory. The Labour Code provides for sanctions against employers for failure to train their employees. The State Labour Inspection Office is responsible for monitoring the currency of occupational health and safety training. Such training should take place during working hours and at the expense of the employer, so failure to attend occupational health and safety training is equivalent to absence from work (unless supported by a doctor’s certificate or leave). Employers have the right to take consequences for this.
Office OHS – the most important regulations
According to Regulation of the Minister of Labor and Social Policy on general occupational health and safety regulations of September 26, 1997 every office must meet appropriate requirements. An office worker spends long hours in the office space, so it is extremely important that the working conditions are safe and do not pose a health risk in the long term. Learn about three of the most important OHS rules in the office, in our opinion.
Lighting in the office – OHS
Lighting is one of the factors that has a significant impact on employees’ well-being. It undoubtedly also affects eye health. Lighting is one of the most commonly cited in the group of onerous factors occurring in the work process. The Central Institute for Labor Protection confirms that improper lighting selection leads to “excessive eye fatigue, eye discomfort, decreased work efficiency, and may exacerbate eye defects”. According to basic principles, both natural and artificial lighting should be provided in office spaces. Electrical installations must be made in accordance with regulations. Light intensity should be tailored to the needs of the employee – depending on the workstation, it should be between 500-200 lx.
Temperature and ventilation in the office – OHS
The prevailing temperature in the office should be comfortable for employees. Too low or too high temperature will simply be inconvenient. It is assumed that the optimal temperature for the office space is around 18°C. Thermal comfort and air exchange can be provided in them using air conditioning, mechanical ventilation, or ventilation with air circulation. It should be remembered that air inlets cannot be directed towards employees. Clean filters are also essential so that dirt and microorganisms do not spread throughout the space.
Workstation organization – OHS
Where employees are located is not insignificant. Each employee should have at least 13 m3 of free volume in the room and at least 2 m3 of free floor space. Such an area should not be occupied by any technical devices or similar items. Its height is also not indifferent – it should be at least 3 meters depending on the office’s specification. The workstation must be well-lit, dry, clean, and adapted for use in accordance with OHS principles – these are the basics without which work hygiene will not be maintained.
Noise in the workplace must be under control
Noise in office spaces largely results from the work of employees themselves, who talk to each other, receive and make phone calls, conduct video conferences, and move around. In addition, there are sounds generated by various devices: computers, printers, and also air conditioning in the office. Sometimes the source of noise comes from outside (for example, construction work, intense traffic) or from other rooms in the company. Some of these office acoustics elements can be eliminated using, for example, acoustic cabins and a telephone booths.