Monthly Archive: June 2018

Desk Safety and Ergonomics

We have currently been going through and talking about a lot of safety in our blog posts (safety blog posting about safety who would have thought), most of our focus has been based more on industry safety, electrical safety and this is very important but it has mainly been things that are based in a more hands-on workplace. We could have some managers reading the blogs or office workers, people who work primarily on computers. There is actually a lot of hazards in an office environment and although some people will likely scoff at this statement and even though a lot of the incidents would not be as serious in another workplace, obviously you are probably not going to get horrifically injured or killed in an office, however, it that does not mean you shouldn’t take precautions to make sure you stay healthy. You should never get injured at work, in any scenario. Especially if it is easily avoidable.

Ergonomics

If you have ever worked in an office you understand that a vast majority of your day is spent sitting at your computer, this presents many problems and can cause several health issues. Some of the issues that can arise are easily fixed by improving the way in which you work at your desk. Ergonomic equipment is a must. This includes an appropriate chair, desk and even keyboard/mouse. Let’s start with the chair. There are some really simple steps you can take with any computer chair you are sitting in to greatly increase your comfort/health.

    1. Push your hips as far back as they can go in the chair.
    2. Adjust the seat height so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees equal to, or slightly lower than, your hips.
    3. Adjust the back of the chair to a 100°-110° reclined angle.
    4. Adjust the armrests (if fitted) so that your shoulders are relaxed.

These are some simple steps in regards to your chair that you can carry out. A lot of what is safety around a computer desk is based upon comfort, however, comfort is not always the most important thing. You want to remain seated with good posture like above, don’t let comfort get in the way of your health, sitting properly is a simple thing to do and it can help immensely.

In regards to your desk, a new thing that has been around for a little while now is desks that are height adjustable. This is a great thing to have if you can afford it for your workplace, or can justify the need for it to your bosses. A desk that adjusts to a height that enables you to stand up and work is a god send. It may sound weird but it is great. You obviously do not spend your entire day standing up at your desk (unless you’re that way inclined) but it is great to alternate between sitting and standing. It gets you to move around a bit and it helps stretch you out and you can continue doing your work.

Keyboards and mice can also be used incorrectly, make sure you have your keyboard positioned away from the front edge of your desk, the majority of the forearm is supposed to be on the desk with the fingers sitting comfortably on the middle row of keys. If sitting at a scalloped desk, the keyboard and mouse can be closer to the edge of the desk as the forearms can be supported by the desk shaping around the body.

This has just been a few simple tips that can greatly increase your comfort levels at work but also your safety, you don’t want to be twinging your back or neck while sitting at a desk now do you?

 

The hierarchy of controls

The hierarchy of controls is an essential tool in the OH&S education and the everyday practice of keeping safe while at work. As you can see from the picture below it breaks down the ways you should approach a hazard. It breaks it into 5 different categories ranging from most effective to least effective. Every category on the triangle is an effective method for handling a hazard and can be combined at times as well.

Elimination:

This is the best result for any hazard, to completely eliminate any risk from the task or to remove that particular task all together. This is obviously a great line to take if it is practical. Unfortunately there is very few scenarios where removing the task is viable. When there is a task that needs to be done, not doing that task is not a very effective way of well… doing the task. While it may be the most effective way to reduce risk it has always seemed to me to be a bit redundant.

Substitution:

Altering the tasks steps or altering the way the task is done to replace the hazard with a different thing is another way you can improve a hazardous situation. This step can also be a bit of a trap because sometimes there is a bit of a culture to just change something for the sake of change. When altering a task to try and replace the hazard the obvious thing needs to be said, make sure that the change you are doing is improving the task at hand while also making it safer. There is little point in improving the task if it makes the task itself less safe.

Engineering controls:

Engineering controls involve isolating people from the hazards present in a task, for instance, if there is a task that is usually completed at height if there is a way that the task can be done on the ground that would isolate the person from the hazard. Engineering controls also refer to things such as fitting guards over dangerous machinery that is used in a task that will stop the person from being able to get hurt by the dangerous aspect of the machine.

Administrative controls:

This involves education to the people who will be carrying out the task, this can include various safety meetings where information is passed both ways from management to staff and vice versa. Once the task is fully understood you can figure out a method of changing the way the task is carried out so it is safer. This is a viable method because education is always important and the more you understand something the better you will be at it.

PPE:

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is the last thing you should do to protect yourself from a hazard (sort of). The reason I say sort of is because PPE will likely be used in almost all work environments, regardless of which other hierarchy control is used. You will use PPE regardless, the idea is that you wouldn’t need to use PPE if the hazard was removed but generally if you are doing a job some part of it will require safety glasses, hearing protection or closed toe steel cap boots.

This has been a short breakdown of the hierarchy of controls and I hope it was informative.

Working at heights

In a vast majority of technical professions working at heights is unavoidable at times, sometimes the work that needs to be done is in a spot that you cannot reach without equipment. Whether this equipment is a ladder or a scissor lift or maybe you have to use a harness while working on a roof. I did a stint as a roof tiling apprentice when I was younger, I only survived a couple of years, that job is tough! With all hazards in the workplace, OH&S guidelines will recommend that you eliminate the hazard from your work routine as the first point of action. They obviously know that sometimes this will be impossible, you cannot tile a roof without … being on the roof, so a fall hazard will always be present. It is all about minimising the risk as best as you can.

Minimising fall risk

In this personal opinion article, I will mainly be drawing on my experiences as a roof tiler and a little bit from when I worked fixing planes. When it came to roof tiling it was all about reducing the risk on the roof, I moved interstate in the middle of my apprenticeship and this is actually what caused me to give up the job. In the first state I lived in the safety systems in place were quite robust, guardrail was present on every roof we worked on, the odds of falling off a roof were minimal as long as you paid due diligence. I moved interstate and took up roof tiling with a new crew. The safety elements in the new state were abysmal in comparison to the old systems that were in place in my previous work environment. This highlighted to me how important safety is because I was literally scared about injuring myself for the entire day and I could not move past that fact.

In a previous job fixing aeroplanes, the emphasis on safety was even more pronounced than in the better roof tiling job. While safety was important in the roof tiling job there was always an element of making sure to just get the job done, however in the hanger everything was about safety, not just for you but also for the equipment you were using. Sometimes you would have to work up at heigh on top of the jet, presenting an obvious fall risk. Fall arrest mats were used in case of a fall.

Working at heights can be dangerous but there is a huge amount of ways to make it safer for you and safer for everyone around you. If you are working on a platform at heigh make sure it has kick panels, you would hate to kick a tool off your platform and for it to land on somebodies head. If you are activating a scissor lift or a cherry picker make sure that you attach your harness before you start to raise the bucket. Common sense as always will always be the biggest factor when it comes to safety. Think safe, be safe.

If you are ever unsure about a safety aspect of any job you are doing make sure that you contact a safety supervisor in the workplace, if you don’t have one then maybe you need to find a different environment to work in, or talk to your supervisors about establishing a more prominent safety culture in your workplace. Roofers Brisbane provides roofing safety systems to ensure a safe workplace. Contact them click here.

No one deserves to get hurt at work.

 

Staying Safe at Work

Workplace Safety

When it comes to knowing the workplace and what hazards exist, employees and employers have big responsibilities on a ground level. The Canadian work code outline these responsibilities and rights that all workers have.

Employee Rights

As an employee, you have a great responsibility by, in which, your every move or lack of has the potential to cause a workplace incident. No one is as responsible for your personal safety as you are yourself. However, this does come with great rights as well. All employees have the right to;

  • Work in a safe environment
  • Be supplied with the correct equipment to maintain a safe environment
  • Be trained to become proficient to carry out regular tasks safely

Further rights outlined in the code are;

THE RIGHT TO KNOW

As an employee, you are eligible for the information the government pertains in relation to the employer’s health & safety record or similar. You have the right to be informed of any known hazards or foreseeable incidents that may arise from future planned tasks.

THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE

If an organisation or company has more than 300 employees, they are obligated to have a health & safety committee so members can participate in creating a safer work environment. You have the right to carry out the means necessary to create a safer and healthy environment for yourself or others around you.

THE RIGHT TO REFUSE

If a situation arises that you as the employee feel that the situation will become unsafe and lead to an injury or potential injury, then you have the right to stop the work and seek further input. The correct method of control must be followed and this can be found in the code.

Employee Responsibilities

As the employee, you must follow all regulations and rules for your workplace and from any governing authority in the applicable industry. Some examples include;

  • Using all provided safety devices or apparatuses
  • Co-operating with anyone that is utilising and abiding by the code
  • Report any unsafe acts or potential hazards
  • Comply with all oral or written direction in the positive promotion of safe environments

Employer responsibilities

The employer is crucial to preventing workplace incidents and mitigating risks. As an employer, you must ensure that all employees have the necessary level of supervision to assist them in carrying out their tasks safely. You must also ensure that the employees have access to tools and the necessary channels of communication to speak up about hazards or concerns they have.

Information, training, and supervision

As the employer, you must ensure all employees are aware of the tasks risks and hazards. You must provide the adequate training and protection necessary to mitigate the risk.

The employer must ensure that the safety committee that was appointed is carrying out regular meeting and field checks. This will raise awareness of safety while also making it easier for the employees to speak up about concerns. This, in turn, will create a better work environment for everyone.

Employer investigations

It is the employer’s responsibility to follow up all reports from employees and effectively act as required.

Inspections

Regular inspections will help reduce hazards and risks to all the workforce. It is imperative that regular checks are carried out. If a hazard or risk is reported then the employer has 30 days in which, they must provide a written response.

Accident investigations and reporting

Employers must report any serious accident within 24hrs to the Labour Program.

Once an investigation is completed the employer has 14 days since the time of an injury to re[port the findings to the Labour Program.

Employers Annual Hazardous Occurrence Report and the Work Place Committee Report are required annually.

Both parties play an important part in safety in the workp[lace and it is up to everyone to work together to achieve a safe working environment.