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Key health and safety tips for clerical and administrative worker

These health and safety tips provide general information on ways to manage the most common hazards and risks in your industry. By following this guidance you will be going a long way to effectively managing health and safety in your workplace. However, every workplace is different and you must not take this information as being all that you need to do.



 

General

General health and safety tips
Activities/instructions More information

Make the work safe by:

  • Using a risk management approach to identify, assess and control workplace hazards. Consult with staff throughout this process and when making changes e.g. trialling new equipment.
  • Considering the workers and the type of work being performed in the design of work areas e.g. workers of different stature will have different seating needs as well as desk height requirements that need to be accommodated.
  • Ensuring all workers are trained to identify the risk factors and how to make appropriate adjustments to their workstation as well as about relevant procedures such as how to report safety or maintenance issues.

Remember, everyone is responsible for workplace health and safety.

Workstation layout and equipment

Workstation layout and equipment health and safety tips
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  • Have workstations designed to allow sufficient height and depth and work surface space to accommodate the person using it and the work performed.
  • Provide a variety of chair styles to accommodate workers physical differences. Chairs should have:
    • a 5 star base
    • be easy to adjust from the seated posture and allow separate adjustment of the lumbar support
    • seat pan
    • back support incline
    • arm rests (if used) that are height adjustable and do not stop workers from getting close to the desk.
  • Position computer keyboards and monitors in front of the user to avoid twisted and awkward postures.
  • For workers who are not touch typists, provide sufficient space between the edge of the desk and keyboard to allow for forearm support.
  • Ensure the computer mouse is positioned in close proximity to and on the same level as the keyboard.
  • For standing workstations, such as reception counters, consider providing seating so postures can be varied between sitting and standing.
  • Consider the need for other equipment such as a document holders, monitor arms, alternate input devices.
  • Laptops are not designed to be used for sustained periods. If this is required, consider:
    • using docking stations
    • providing separate keyboard and mouse
    • transferring work to a desktop computer.
  • Provide telephone headsets where there is sustained phone use or workers are required to write or use the computer at the same time (e.g. in call centres).
  • Ensure frequently used items are in easy reach in order to minimise bending, twisting, and overreaching and to allow the worker to adopt a forward facing upright posture.
  • Use mechanical devices such as trolleys to minimise carrying heavier loads.
  • Create a work space where sitting and standing can be alternated.
  • Position printers and faxes away from the work area to encourage a change of posture when accessing this equipment.

Office layout

Office layout health and safety tips
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  • Provide adequate space for and easy access to equipment, storage areas, workstations (e.g. collating tasks may need a larger working space and higher work surface).
  • Store heavy and commonly used items between mid thigh and shoulder height.
  • Provide easy access to lunch room, toilets and drinking water.
  • Locate equipment such as photocopiers and tea facilities in a suitable area to minimise disruption to other workers.

Hazardous substances

Hazardous substances health and safety tips
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  • Make sure the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are available for substances classified as hazardous (e.g. photocopy/printer toner).
  • Read the label and MSDS and follow the instructions.
  • Store chemicals safely and securely when not in use and store flammable and combustible liquids away from ignition sources.
  • Train workers in safe handling of hazardous substances.
  • Never store chemicals in food and/or drink containers.
  • Make sure chemicals are correctly labelled.
  • Wash your hands before eating.
  • Make sure general ventilation in the photocopier/printer location is adequate.

Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls health and safety tips
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  • Ensure procedures are in place for spills management and cleaning.
  • Use appropriate cleaning methods and clean up spills promptly.
  • Ensure flooring is non-slip.
  • Make sure floors are well maintained (e.g. free from holes, curled carpet edges etc)
  • Make sure work areas and walkways are kept clear and tidy, are clearly marked and are adequately lit.
  • Provide adequate storage so that items are not stored in walkways.
  • Encourage staff to wear supportive non-slip footwear.
  • Make sure flexible leads, such as electrical or telephone, are not placed across walkways.
  • Choose chairs appropriate for the floor surface (e.g. castors on carpet, gliders or castors fitted with brakes for timber, concrete or vinyl).

Stress/bullying/occupational violence

Stress/bullying/occupational violence health and safety tips
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  • Develop and promote clear policies and procedures to deal with bullying, harassment and work pressure, and implement an effective issue reporting and resolution plan.
  • Ensure all workers understand what bullying and harassment are and the procedures for reporting incidents (e.g. explain policies and procedures during induction).
  • Provide post-incident care, including counselling and support.
  • Put security measures in place to reduce the risk of occupational violence where money is handled or people are working alone.
  • Train all staff at risk, including contractors and office staff as well as front-line staff.
  • Anticipate peak work loads by preparing work ahead of time where possible and/or schedule work to avoid recurrent deadline stress.

Environment

Environment health and safety tips
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  • Ensure lighting does not create glare or shadow on computer screens (e.g. position the screen at right angles to the window or use blinds over the windows).
  • Purchase office equipment that generates minimal noise and position it in well-ventilated areas.
  • Provide and maintain adequate air-conditioning systems (e.g. keep the air temperature as even as possible).

Electrical

Electrical health and safety tips
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  • Keep all electrical equipment away from water.
  • Secure and protect extension leads from damage and ensure they do not create a trip hazard in the workplace.
  • Ensure all electrical equipment is maintained in good working order and all specified electrical equipment is tested and tagged where required.

Tips for workers

Tips for workers health and safety tips
Activities/instructions More information
  • Follow workplace policies and procedures.
  • Discuss with your supervisor if you are having difficulties managing your workload.
  • Report accidents, incidents and maintenance issues.
  • Let your employer know if you are experiencing any discomfort that may be caused by your work.
  • Practice strict personal hygiene (e.g. wash your hands and use antibacterial washes).


Last updated 02 November 2011