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Office Design and Health: Hidden Dangers and Hazards You Should be Aware of

Sitting in a chair in a climate-controlled environment may not appear like a risky proposition, but, there is a wide range of health risks and dangers that lurk around office desks and they most often fly under our radar. The first step is awareness of risks and then the implementation of policies and improvements that address them.

Workplace injuries

Trips, falls, and slips account for the bulk of workplace injuries. Hence, it is of the utmost importance to keep the clutter at bay. Store the stacked boxes, office supplies, and boards and avoid electrical and telephone cords getting in the way. Ensure an unobstructed flow of traffic and a clear vision of walkways. Note that an open floor plan decreases the likelihood of clutter accumulation and impeded traffic. So, it is advisable to take a proactive, informed approach and come up with space modifications if need be.

Fire hazards

Due to the abundance of electrical equipment and flammable materials, fires are more common in office environments than one would assume. The good news, though, is that routine office inspections can drastically reduce the risk of a fire breaking out. They allow one to identify problems such as frayed cords, malfunctioning appliances and space heaters. It is also crucial to train employees how to react in cases of emergency. They must be able to use equipment like fire extinguishers and find an emergency exit quickly.

Germs, viruses, and bacteria

This time around, large, open-plan offices actually aggravate the problem instead of mitigating it. Coupled with modern air-conditioning systems, they allow the germs and viruses to pass around quickly. Furthermore, office environments are fertile grounds for bacteria to flourish. Desks, telephones, and work areas tend to be quite dirty and they certainly require regular cleaning and disinfection. The goal is to prevent colds, flu, and stomach bugs that can seemingly emerge out of nowhere and plague the whole workforce.

Sick Buildings

Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) refers to a set of medical conditions that affect employees. They feel unwell or suffer symptoms of illness such as eye, nose, and throat irritation as well as fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. These are experienced for no apparent reason other than spending time in the office. However, scientists have managed to pin them down to the flaws in the HVAC system as well as mold, outgassing of building materials, industrial chemicals, etc.

Surrounding noise

Most people are oblivious to the existence of background noise in their work environments. Yet, this serious problem is present in many offices that adhere to contemporary layout and floor plans. The danger lies in the fact that high levels of noise raise the stress, and thus increase the risk of long-term health and mental problems. Fortunately, investing in sound-masking devices and white-noise machines can diminish surrounding noises and makes workers’ lives much easier.

Inadequate workstations

Poorly-arranged workstations impede the worker’s productivity and health.  This is simply unacceptable as minor adjustments can make a big difference and prevent issues such as work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs) and back pain. Thus, it is necessary to pay close attention to detail such as: keyboard positioning, monitor distance, chair height, etc. The workers should also keep an eye on the posture and steer away from developing the notorious “computer crouch”.

On the safe side

Offices do not seem as dangerous as building sites and warehouses. In the light of the mounting evidence, nobody can afford to turn a blind eye to these perils. It is virtually impossible to guard against every imaginable hazard and accident that takes place even under the most rigorous safety regimes. Still, carrying out regular checks and audits goes a long way in preserving health and well-being of everyone in the work place.

Thanks to Chloe Taylor from for keeping us informed on how to stay safe in the work place!

Photo Creds: Unsplash

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    Mar 18


    Informative article, just what I was looking for. I am reading this enormous paragraph to improve my knowledge. It’s because that it’s very useful for everyone who needs this kind of thing. Keep up the great work.

      Mar 19

      Miranda Quinn


      Thank you very much for the feedback! Glad we were able to help.


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