Office Environment and Worker Safety and Health

Office Environment

If you work and are spending one-third to one-half of your day in an office environment, then your surroundings there are as important as those in your home. The effect of your indoor setting may have an influence on the performance, productivity, health, and well-being of office workers.

Although we usually have little control over the buildings we work in, being aware of problems that can affect us will enable us to take counter-measures and may encourage the creation of stimulating and nurturing environments.

A well-designed office allows each employee to work comfortably without needing to over-reach, sit or stand too long, or use awkward postures (correct ergonomic design). Sometimes, equipment or furniture changes are the best solution to allow employees to work comfortably. On other occasions, the equipment may be satisfactory but the task could be redesigned.

For example, studies have shown that those working at computers have less discomfort with short, hourly breaks.

Below are some tips in making your work environment a healthy, safe, and productive one:

Make sure that your chair is comfortable and has adjustable height and arms. When you are sitting straight with feet flat on the floor your arms should be at a 90-degree angle when typing on the computer. If you are having to strain or stretch to reach your computer then you are putting stress on the back and shoulder area. Chairs can certainly be expensive but in the long run it will cost much less than spending time at the chiropractor.

Plants do more than just enhance the beauty of your surroundings, many actually clean pollutants out of the air as they add oxygen and humidity to the indoor environment. They also filter the air, and can fight against the common high-tech ill, sick building disease.

Studies suggest that natural light increases human productivity and reduces fatigue and stress. By simply replacing your antiquated fluorescent tubes with full-spectrum tubes, you can instantly enhance your environment and your well-being. Full spectrum lighting emits a natural, balanced spectrum of light that is the closest you can get to sunlight indoors. Based on years of study not only do they bring out true, vibrant colors but they can also ease eye fatigue, improve your mood, reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels, slow aging of the retina, and reduce glare.

Situations in offices that can lead to injury or illness range from physical hazards (such as cords across walkways, leaving low drawers open, objects falling from overhead) to task-related (speed or repetition, duration, job control, etc.), environmental (chemical or biological sources), or design-related hazards (such as nonadjustable furniture or equipment).

Most of the time, it’s the major sources of stress that lead to job burnout and health problems. Job stress can affect your home life too. There are a variety of steps you can take to reduce both your overall stress levels and the stress you find on the job and in the workplace.

These include:

  • Taking responsibility for improving your physical and emotional well-being;
  • Avoiding pitfalls by identifying knee jerk habits and negative attitudes that add to the stress you experience at work; and
  • Learning better communication skills to ease and improve your relationships with management and coworkers.