Home > Case Studies > Essentials of a Safe Working Environment: A Case Study

Essentials of a Safe Working Environment: A Case Study

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 29 Jun 2015 | comments*Discuss
Safety Check Safe Working Environments

Jenny Whiting is a local authority health and safety officer. The council she works for has a number of offices and public access sites. Part of her job is to inspect these and ensure safe working environments.

Here Jenny discusses the type of things she looks for when she goes out on one of her safety checks.

A lot to check for safety

It’s surprising how much you need to check when you’re reviewing safe working environments as a Health and Safety Officer. Obviously managers, supervisors and even staff are responsible for ensuring their office, work area or public access area is safe. It’s easy for people to become complacent, however. This is when it’s useful for someone like me to come round to give a second opinion.

One of the first things I look for is a clean environment. Even the smallest items of rubbish such as screwed up pieces of paper can be a Risk in the Workplace. For instance, someone who sidesteps to avoid treading on a bit of rubbish can easily collide with a colleague, an item of furniture or machinery.

This leads to the next issue: overcrowding. Space is often scarce and costly, so some managers cram as much as they can into a given area. This can be dangerous, and I’ve often had to advise managers on the room they must make available for staff and equipment.

Common Staff Safety Concerns

When I’m on my rounds, one of the common concerns staff bring to me is lighting and ventilation. There may be too much glare on a Computer Screen (VDU); too little light to read a document; not enough fresh air because a window is jammed; or too many draughts.

It’s almost impossible to please everybody. I usually find there are a lot of actions both managers and staff can take, however, to bring about improvements.

Another issue is suitable seating. In any workplace or public area, seats wear out or break. Surprisingly, a lot of people just make do. Or they push the broken seat to one side, find another and don’t say anything.

Broken and worn seats are potentially hazardous, especially if the seat collapses under someone. Almost every time I do my rounds, I find at least one or two damaged seats, some of which staff are still using. I make a note and immediately report the matter to the manager. Next time I visit, I confirm that the damaged seats have gone.

Passages and Stairs

Some of the obvious areas I check for safety are the passages and stairs. These must be clean, free from trailing wires and other obstacles, and have properly laid flooring. If a carpet has worn through or the edge has curled up, I place a piece of yellow and black adhesive safety tape across it and notify the manager.

Drinking Water

One other matter that’s come to the fore in recent years is the drinking water. I’ve noticed that more and more staff bring bottled water to work rather than drink from the tap in the kitchen areas. I’ve arranged for testing of the tap water in just about every office in the council. The contractors found only one problem in an older building where there were still lead pipes. Nonetheless, I’ve urged managers to consider installing bottled water dispensers.

A Safe Working Environment

Apart from all these checks, I ensure that suitable Safety Signs are available if an incident occurs; that staff have received proper training about safety issues; and that all machinery has up-to-date service records. I hope that in this way I make some contribution to guaranteeing pleasant and safe working environments.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
How to get on Eric Wright site washam
hughesy - 29-Jun-15 @ 11:24 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Sandy
    Re: Can my Employer Fire Me?
    Hi I work on a zero hours contract doing between 22 & 18hrs a week, I've recently asked for reduced hrs due to suffering with…
    17 June 2018
  • Timmy
    Re: Risks at Work
    Has anyone done a risk assessment of "Mobility Scooters" in Workplaces that allow the public in using these?
    17 June 2018
  • Mrl123
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    Ive been working for my employer for 3 years now 2 of which permanent contracted, 12 hour shifts our shift…
    16 June 2018
  • Andyjok
    Re: Working At Night
    Hi I work a constant night shift 7.45pm till 6am on Monday and 6pm till 6am Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday. Finishing Friday morning until Monday…
    16 June 2018
  • Sportsdirect bullied
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    Why nobody answers back to me? Why people are making differences?please respond, I need your help!
    16 June 2018
  • Pam
    Re: Food Safety and the Law
    Is there any law against chefs wearing shorts in the kitchen when preparing food
    15 June 2018
  • Kerz
    Re: Employment Probation Periods: What You Need to Know
    I just the sack after working at a company for 6 weeks I was really ill with a migraine and was…
    15 June 2018
  • Steve
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    I have been off work due to a mental illness since about the end of April and as I am currently on Statutory Sick Pay I am struggling. The…
    15 June 2018
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Being Pregnant at Work
    Kt19 - Your Question:Hi I’m 23 weeks preganant and a professional dog walker walking up to 6 dogs at a time. I’ve just been told I’ve got…
    15 June 2018
  • SafeWorkers
    Re: Guide to Your Rights When Working Alone
    Angel - Your Question:Ive recently been offered a job, working 12 nights.10 hours of which will be alone.I will be…
    15 June 2018