Nearly half the people employed in clerical and administration type work in the jurisdiction had a claim for a body stressing injury in 2015/16. Many others go unreported.
To provide a high standard of health and safety protection to all workers, all the things that might go wrong during work activities need to be identified, assessed and where practical, remedied. This revolves around identifying hazards in the workplace and as a result of work activity.
Conflict can occur between peers and colleagues or between the worker and their boss. We don’t get to choose who we work with so we need to be able to be flexible in dealing with other workers. Source Workplace conflict, Victoria state government (accessed 7/12/16).
‘Workplace bullying’ is defined as repeated and unreasonable behaviour directed towards a worker or a group of workers that creates a risk to health and safety. ‘Repeated behaviour’ refers to the persistent nature of the behaviour and can involve a range of behaviours over time.
‘Unreasonable behaviour’ means behaviour that a reasonable person, having regard for the circumstances, would see as unreasonable, including behaviour that is victimising, humiliating, intimidating or threatening.
Harassment can include behaviour such as:
Electrocution incidents can be fatal, while non-fatal shocks can result in serious and permanent burn injuries to skin, internal tissues and damage to the heart depending on the length and severity of the shock. Electrical safety is not just the domain of trained and qualified electricians. It is the responsibility of all workers.
Most injuries in the Comcare scheme are the result of using faulty equipment (such as frayed electrical cords, faulty plugs or damaged equipment), non-tested personal and company-owned equipment and/or poor electrical awareness and practices.
Inspection and testing of electrical equipment
However, electrical equipment that is unsafe must not be used (see regulation 149).
Division 6 Residual current devices
164 Use of socket outlets in hostile operating environment
In order to prevent MSD your workstation equipment should be adjustable to your needs. Your workstation consists of your desk, chair, monitor, keyboard and mouse. Telephony will be addressed in a separate section of the Virtual Office.
If a keyboard is used, arms should be bent at right angles at the elbow, with the hands held in a straight line with forearms and elbows close to the body. The head should be in line with the body and slightly forward.
Angle the monitor away from lights and windows to avoid glare, locate the monitor directly in front of yourself at arms length away, position the top of the monitor just above eye level to avoid head tilt, and tilt the monitor 15 degrees up from vertical.
Dual screens - position the primary monitor in front of you proportional to the use. Locate monitors side by side and slightly angle the screens towards each other to prevent twisting. Learn how to arrange your work on the screen such as two documents side by side on the one screen.
Use the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes stop work and focus your eyes on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Eyes can dry out as a result of reduced blinking when staring at computer screens. Office workers who wear contact lenses experience more severe symptoms of dry eye because contact lenses can cause friction if the eye is not well lubricated. If the surface of the eye is dry, the contact lens also becomes dry and sticks to the upper eyelid during blinking. Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day to maintain adequate hydration.
The Keyboard should be directly in front of you and at a height that enables your upper limbs to adopt a neutral position. Keep the keyboard close to you so you aren’t reaching. You may need a split keyboard to enable your limbs to remain in the correct position if you are a large person. The mouse also requires a neutral position for use enabling the wrist to remain flat during use. Learn to use your mouse with the other hand to allow you to swap sides from time to time to rest the other hand. Be careful not to reach for your mouse, it should be beside the keyboard. Because there are many designs of mouse it is important to have one that suits the users hand.
Thermal comfort is a very personal thing. People can experience discomfort from being too hot or too cold, in the office environment and it may not be possible to ensure every worker is feeling comfortable in the work environment all the time.
Optimum comfort for sedentary work is generally between 20 and 26 °C. In an office environment, the quality of the air is often controlled through an air conditioning system.
The use of personal heaters in an air-conditioned area where people are experiencing discomfort may exacerbate the situation. The heat generated can interfere with the automatic control of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. For example, the operation of a personal heater may cause a nearby heating or air conditioning thermostat to falsely sense that the room is too hot, thereby increasing the cool air supplied to the room
In general, when it is too cold, or when we touch cold materials, our hands can become numb. With numbed hands, we are more likely to misjudge the amount of force required to do our work. A cold environment also makes our bodies less flexible. Every movement we make and every position we hold takes more work, and then MSDs are more likely to develop (source CCOHS website )
The use of personal heaters in an air-conditioned area where people are experiencing discomfort may exacerbate the situation, as the heat generated can interfere with the automatic control of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. For example, the operation of a personal heater may cause a nearby heating or air conditioning thermostat to falsely sense that the room is too hot, consequently increasing the cool air supplied to the room. Personal Heaters are not recommended in open office environments.
An air-conditioning system should:
Natural ventilation should consist of permanent openings, including windows and doors, that:
Refer to Part 3.2 General workplace Management, Division 2—General working environment and Division 7—Managing risks from airborne contaminants
As with office temperature, individuals will have differing requirements for the level of lighting. Ideally workers will be able to adjust their lighting requirements.
The following factors should be taken into account when assessing the level of lighting required
Class of task
Recommended illuminance (lux)
Characteristics of the activity/interior
Examples of types of activities/interiors
|Movement and orientation||40||For little-used interiors with visual tasks limited to moving around.||Corridors; cable tunnels; indoor storage tanks; walkways.|
|Rough intermittent||80||For interiors used intermittently, with visual tasks limited to movement, orientation and coarse detail.||Workers change and locker rooms; live storage of bulky materials; dead storage of materials needing care; loading bays.|
|Normal range of tasks and workplaces|
|Simple||160||Continuously occupied interior with visual tasks (coarse detail only.) Occasional reading of clearly printed documents for short periods.||Waiting rooms; entrance halls; canteens; rough checking of stock; rough bench and machine work; general fabrication of structural steel; casting concrete; automated process monitoring; turbine halls.|
|Ordinary or moderately easy||240||Continuously occupied interiors with moderately easy visual tasks with high contrasts or large detail.||School boards and charts; medium woodworking; food preparation; counters for transactions; computer use.|
|Moderately difficult||320||Areas where visual tasks are moderately difficult with moderate detail or with low contrasts.||Routine office tasks (e.g. reading, writing, typing, enquiry desks.)|
|400||Inspection of medium work; fine woodwork; enquiry points; car assembly.|
|Difficult||600||Areas where visual tasks are difficult with small detail or with low contrast.||Drawing boards; most inspection tasks; proofreading; fine machine work; fine painting and finishing; colour matching.|
|Very difficult||800||Areas where visual tasks are very difficult with very small detail or with very low contrast.||Fine inspection; plant retouching; fine manufacture; grading of dark materials; colour matching of dyes.|
Refer to Part 3.2 General workplace Management, Division 2—General working environment
Generally, the levels of noise in office areas are below those levels known to pose a risk to hearing.
The current trend for open plan offices enables collaboration between workers. However, open plan offices also provide a lack of sound privacy, which affects employee morale (2013 study from the University of Sydney). A 2014 study by Steelcase and Ipsos found that workers lost as much as 86 minutes per day due to noise distractions.
Generally, the levels of noise in office areas are below those levels known to pose a risk to hearing.
Diagram: common noise levels in decibels
Many people don’t recognise that they can unconsciously raise their voice when speaking on the phone. We tend to think speaking louder makes us clearer to understand. By simply speaking to those people and highlighting that they may need to use their ‘inside’ voice may be all that is necessary to reduce the problem.
Many people bring in headphones and listen to music to block out other noise, however you shouldn’t have the volume too loud as this introduces new risks. Your co-workers should not be able to hear your music (besides, they may not like your taste in music!). Try and have the volume so you can hear colleagues nearby who need to talk to you and you can hear emergency warning sounds.
Generally people cope better with ambient or background noise when it is not as discernable as speech. When you can’t understand the words being spoken, they become less distracting. You will need to consult an audiometric expert before taking this option. Controlling the source of the noise is the preferred before adding extra noise.
The workplace should be designed with the functions to be performed in mind. For example a call centre versus administrative functions. The types of materials used in construction (or refurbishment) of the workplace should provide adequate sound absorbing properties (for example carpet or partitions). Plants can also be added to the workspace for sound absorption.
If an open plan office is the desired design then include dedicated quiet spaces or rooms in the design as well as regular meeting and conference rooms. Existing conference rooms could be turned to quiet rooms if redesign is not an option.
Bullying is considered a risk to health and safety within the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). The word ‘health’ in the WHS Act is defined as both physical and psychological health and the normal risk management process applies including the identification, assessment and management of work-related risk factors.
Some examples of potential injury:
‘Workplace harassment’ is different to workplace bullying. Workplace harassment is unwanted behaviour that offends, humiliates or intimidates a person, and targets them on the basis of a characteristic such as gender, race or ethnicity. It is normally covered under human rights legislation but sometimes behaviour can be a combination of both bullying and harassment
People look at / check their smart phones on average every 20 minutes.
Nearly 80% of Australians use a mobile phone.
Between 40 and 60% of Australians admit to using their mobile phone whilst driving.
Approximately 30% of Australians are mobile—only users, that is, they no longer use a fixed line for phone or internet needs.(source ABS)
Although people are concerned about exposure to radiation (Bluetooth devices emit microwave radiation), there is no conclusive research to either support or deny the case
Your head weighs up to 5 kilograms so if you bend your neck forward to look down at the screen of the mobile phone you are placing a strain on your neck muscles to hold that weight. It is only a matter of time until you notice soreness in your neck muscles. Pay attention to your posture when using your mobile phone.
Refer Part 3.2 General workplace Management, Division 2 – General working environment.