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How to make your office return safe

Olivia Wigg - The Compensation Experts

With the recent news that Boris Johnson has dropped the work from home guidance with immediate effect, offices across the UK are now back open for business. But many workers may find it daunting to be back in a different territory after a long time remote working, with searches for ‘can I refuse to go back to the office’ up by +767%1.

To help your workers feel safe when returning to the office, The Compensation Experts outline five ways to keep your employees happy and safe in the office.

Top tips for making the office feel safe

1. Create and implement a safety programme
Before your employees return to the office, take the time to have a walk around, and identify anything that’s a potential hazard. Then, you can take steps to remove that hazard and prevent it from happening again. When staff come back, set aside half a day where you can train them on how to keep the office safe and encourage them to report potential hazards when they see them. It would also be beneficial to send some of your employees on a first aid course, just in case anything should happen.

2. Keep your office clean and tidy
As offices are a large communal space and Covid still a potential risk, it’s important to offer your employees antibacterial cleaning products. Educate your employees on cleaning down desks and meeting rooms after use, to keep it safe for everyone else.

Loose wires and cables are a sure-fire way for your employees to injure themselves by tripping over them. Ensure cables are neatly tucked away, no boxes are left on the floor, and that desks are kept clean. If there are any spilt liquids in the kitchen, make sure you wipe them up, even if you didn’t spill them (and make sure employees have the same mentality!); to prevent potential accidents before they happen.

3. Empower employees with the information they need
Whilst as a general rule, office workers may not be required to do a lot of heavy lifting; there may be an occasion where a heavy parcel gets delivered, or employees are moving desks and need to lift computer monitors and chairs. If you know that something like this is likely to happen, provide them with the knowledge they need to do it safely, and injury-free.

4. Set up all office equipment correctly – and regularly audit it
When you think of a workplace accident, slips, trips, and falls likely spring to mind; but there are other, less-obvious accidents that are waiting to happen. With people coming back to the office, it’s the perfect time to ensure all equipment is set up correctly. Make sure all office chairs are set up to provide the right amount of back support, and that keyboards and monitors are at the right angle.

5. Avoid the temptation of shortcuts
It sounds obvious, but mistakes are most likely to happen when tasks are done quickly. Your employees’ safety should be the most important thing to you, so when implementing safety measures, don’t cut corners. You should also encourage your employees to do the same – completing a task they’ve done before may make them think they don’t need to take adequate safety measures, but it could cause an injury, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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