Most of us know the obvious workplace dangers to look out for such as slippery floors and fire hazards, however there could be less obvious dangers in your office to address. Here are some of the hidden health hazards that most employers don’t consider.
Cleanliness is essential for making your office a healthy environment. Bacteria can quickly start to build up on desks, computer keyboards and mice that aren’t regularly cleaned. In fact, studies have found that the average computer keyboard is dirtier than a toilet seat! Such bacteria could be making your employees ill more often.
The easiest way to keep your office clean is to hire a contract cleaning company. You can also make cleaning easier by choosing easy-clean equipment such as silicone keyboards that don’t allow crumbs to fall between the keys or laminate desks with easy-to-wipe surfaces.
Too much sitting down
Do you and your employees spend all day sat down? A sedentary lifestyle can lead to all kinds of health problems from weaker knee joints to a greater risk of heart disease.
There are many ways in which you can start encouraging you and your employees to be more active. Firstly, you can discourage laziness by not putting bins at every desk and putting equipment in places that force people to get up and move. You could also enforce a ‘no eating at desk’ rule so that people have to get up to have their lunch. You could even go so far as to invest in a standing desk.
Poor ergonomics is another hidden danger with long term negative effects. Desks and computer screens that are too low could be encouraging you and your employers to crane over, which could be putting a strain on you and your employees’ spines. This is thought to be the leading cause of back problems later in life.
Consider buying adjustable height desks or monitors with adjustable height. You can also fend of RSIs by buying ergonomic office chairs and being careful where you place desks (make sure that people aren’t places right near a wall so that they have enough elbow-room and leg room).
Dirty air conditioning
Unclean air conditioning could pose a serious danger. Mold spores may have gathered in the air conditioning unit (especially over the winter when not in use), which could be getting pumped into the air and causing respiratory problems. In fact, dirty air con has been linked to diseases as lethal as legionnaires.
Make sure that your air conditioning is serviced on an annual basis as to avoid this.
Dangers in the walls
You may also want to consider your office building and the materials used during construction. Asbestos and lead paint are just two toxic materials that were once commonly used to build offices with – both materials are now banned but they can still found in many offices across the country.
Such materials aren’t a danger unless they start flaking, at which point toxic particles could get into the air. If you suspect any of these materials are in your office walls, you’re best hiring a professional removal team to get rid of them.