As an employer in the United States (or Canada, United Kingdom, and others), an organization has specific responsibilities regarding the general safety of office staff and others at the workplace.
The OSHA (Occupational Safety And Health Administration) recognizes six primary aspects of the workplace for employers to follow guidelines.
- Hazard Communications
- Emergency Action Planning
- Fire Safety
- Exit Routes
- Walking Or Working Surfaces
- Medical And First Aid
Aside from a few exemptions, most workplaces must keep a documented record of regular inspections within their facility to ensure OSHA regulation compliance. The same is true for other countries, which have their own standards management branches of government overseeing compliance in similar ways to the United States and the Department of Labor’s OSHA division.
We will take a deeper look into the OSHA requirements for most general employers later in this article. For now, understanding that your company is obligated by law to perform a safety inspection, let’s get down to the general office safety checklist so you can complete your office safety audit.
Included In The Office Safety Audit Checklist
There are several vital sections we’ve included in your new Office Safety Audit Checklist here that you’ll appreciate, given the legal requirements you have to maintain a safe workplace and good records. Look briefly at the various sections included in the OSAC (Office Safety Audit Checklist).
There are seven sections of the OSAC that you will need to train your staff inspectors to complete. Here’s a brief overview of each section.
Whether your business resides in or operates in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, or another country, most countries with developed economies have similar rules to workplace posting.
For example, in the United States, you must post the OSHA poster for your staff in a predominant place. In Ontario, Canada, you have to post the WSIB workplace safety poster. Each country and sometimes individual states and provinces all carry similar rules to posting the correct poster in the workplace to benefit staff information sharing.
Aside from the regulatory requirements for the poster of your given government presiding body, there are the common-sense requirements of posting emergency phone numbers, exit routes, room capacities, hazards, or other such things in the workplace that need proper identification.
For full details of the OSHA particular requirements, visit the OSHA Small Business Handbook.
Another requirement in most countries is the practice of documenting staff injuries, training, and incidents. Anything relating to your staff’s health, safety, or well-being must find itself in your documentation.
For example, most injuries, save for the minor bumps on a desk, should be included in a report. Government agencies often levy heavy fines for businesses who fail to report a workplace injury, so ensure you’re record keeping in the office is up to code.
The recordkeeping also refers to the upkeep of licensing for elevators, fire-rated doors, fire alarms, and other items.
Health And Safety Program
Most organizations, big or small, operate with some level of health and safety program. The larger the company, the more complex and labor-intensive these programs often become.
It is still vital for the minor operation to have a health and safety program in place. Your business will need specific procedures in place, and this section aims to aid you in that task.
Medical And First Aid
Every workplace must have an up-to-date and stocked first aid kit. The kit’s contents should include enough supplies to accommodate the amount of staff and potential foreseeable incidents or injuries.
Medical supplies may include a defibrillator or even oxygen if the company is large enough to warrant these secondary medical emergency/first aid supplies.
With any first aid supplies, you will need staff training; otherwise, the supplies may be rendered obsolete. Maintaining these records is another aspect of your office safety inspection that your staff should check to ensure accuracy and due diligence in keeping the records up-to-date.
A critical aspect of any office safety inspection is checking to ensure fire equipment is in good working order. You might think, well, my office space is tame, we work at desks, eat our lunch and go home, there’s no fire danger in that. You’d be wrong to think this, however. Did you realize that 30.4% of fires that occur at work occur because of cooking? (source)
Maintaining fire preventive equipment is essential for early warning and saving staff in case of emergency. Office or not, fires happen and cost commercial property owners and businesses over 2.4 billion dollars in damage each year.
Use the fire protection section of the OSAC for auditing your office fire protection equipment and preparedness.
Personal Protective Equipment
Most office environments don’t have a lot of PPE around. However, there are multiple things that your company may require, even in an office environment.
Things like hand sanitizer, face masks, and safety glasses are wise PPE for a business to keep on hand in times of pandemics. However, you should also consider using an Employee Or Visitor Health Screening Form if you have staff in your office with vulnerable health conditions.
Other things that may require PPE in an office setting are cleaners, printer toner cartridges, and other similar items that contain potentially toxic chemicals. Even in an office, PPE is likely still required.
General Work Environment
The general work environment section will find the essential and apparent items to confirm our office safety audit. Things like clean and sanitary working conditions, trip hazards, office furniture conditions, and these sorts of hazards are audited using this section of the OSAC.
How To Use The Office Safety Audit Checklist
Benefits Of The Office Safety Audit Checklist
There are several great reasons to use the Office Safety Audit Checklist or similar reports for your office safety inspections. Let’s take a look at a few of the basics that will aid your organization.
- Prevent Injuries And Accidents
- Maintain Good Staff Culture
- Maintain Legal Responsibilities
- Limit Exposure To Risk
Prevent Injuries And Accidents
With a regular self-inspection program, your office can prevent or maybe even eliminate workplace injuries and accidents. Remember, to prevent a threat, you must identify it.
Maintain Good Staff Culture
Staff is typically eager to participate unless you’re Ron Swanson on the show Parks and Recreation. If you don’t know the reference, he is a man who is exceedingly against any form of organization in the workplace, especially the government. He detests team players and will have nothing to do with safety or procedures.
For the rest of us trying to run respectable businesses, maintaining a culture where staff feels safe in the workplace is vital to our operations.
Including staff in a monthly office safety audit will help staff know your management team is looking out for their best interests in providing a safe and healthy work environment. It builds team spirit and a team-aware attitude amongst staff which in turn aids management to keep things running smoothly.
Maintain Legal Responsibilities
One of the first things on most managers’ minds is how to maintain legal responsibility. The last thing any manager needs is to face reprimand for a poorly managed office where someone got hurt. Negligence is no excuse, and courts will never accept it as such. Keep your company safe and maintain your legal responsibilities by documenting your regular office safety inspections.
Limit Exposure To Risk
Similar, in a sense, to maintaining legal responsibilities is our desire to limit risk exposure. In an office environment, many companies assume risk is negligible and do little to attempt its prevention. This mentality works great until there’s an accident and the company faces multiple fines for lack of training, preparation, and other infractions related to neglect of duty.
By adding a procedure to a regularly scheduled office safety audit, your company is limiting your exposure to risk by attempting to identify and rectify any potential hazards. Prevention saves your staff from injury and your business from risk, so it is always worth including in your policies.
OSHA Requirements For Most Employers
With such a wide variety of industries in operation, it isn’t easy to know which regulations must be adhered to strictly. However, in general, the OSHA requirements for most employers fit the bill for our office safety audit checklist.
The OSHA in the United States operates with similar intent to government agencies in other countries overseeing the same or similar processes within their respective nations. Let’s take a look at the basic requirements for most employers, so you know why including them on our OSAC was so critical.
- Hazard Communications
One of the most critical aspects of work safety, whether in a warehouse, manufacturing plant, or office, is communications when it comes to hazards. From something as simple as a ‘watch your step’ sign to a sign denoting storage of toxic cleaning products, communication of hazards is vital to prevent potential injury.
- Emergency Action Planning
It is equally vital for staff to have training for potential emergency scenarios as important as hazard communication is. Most countries require emergency action planning to be available to staff, even in an office setting. Therefore, we must include this on our safety audit form.
- Fire Safety
Fire safety is a crucial factor of importance when performing an office safety audit. Safety inspections must always include fire equipment, whether sprinklers, fire extinguishers, alarm systems, or other such devices. The prevention and fast response to fire hazards are of great importance to the OSHA and other agencies, and it ought to be extremely important to your organization.
- Exit Routes
As we spoke of fires, it is wise to have exit routes and exit doors clean, clear, and in good working order. Exit routes are vital for employee survival in cases of fire or other extreme emergencies, so the government regulatory bodies that perform random inspections will be looking for exit routes to be marked and free of debris.
- Walking Or Working Surfaces
You may have noticed that many aspects of business relating to safety that are important to government agencies are similar in some respects. For example, we were discussing exit routes, and now we continue to walking or working surfaces. Safety is inherent in everything we do in the workplace.
Maintaining clean and safe walking or working surfaces is essential for you to maintain good working order. It’s also a requirement of the OSHA and many other countries’ labor condition regulations.
- Medical And First Aid
The first aid and medical devices of a workplace are of great concern to government inspectors. Your organization must maintain your first aid equipment per local and national regulations. Typically it involves keeping a well-stocked and up-to-date first aid kit or kits and documenting any use of the kits. However, the number of kits and level of documentation may change depending on the size of your company, so check with local authorities for your region’s particular requirements.
The six primary requirements of the OSHA are merely generalizations. Depending on your industry, there might be even more regulations that your company must adhere to and follow.
Depending on the size of your office and amount of staff, you may want to consider a digital solution over a printed one. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons this is a wise decision.
Office Safety Audit Solutions For Hazard Prevention
We encourage you to download a copy of our OSAC (Office Safety Audit Checklist) for use in your business. However, it wouldn’t be fair to keep you in the dark about something we have that works much more efficiently than printing a form for manual completion.
At 1ST Incident Reporting, we’re all about speeding up processes and including automation to achieve effortless increases in operational efficiency. And being an ISO/IEC 27001 company, we recognize the value of optimal information management security. With these points in mind, we’d like you to consider a digital option for your office safety audit reporting.
The 1ST Incident Reporting app is a versatile, mobile solution for your business reporting requirements from the OSAC to visitor screening or even vehicle accidents. Suppose there is a need for any form of incident, injury, or even a near-miss report or dangerous situation tracking. In that case, our app is ready to assist your company in your reporting processes.
You can build off our existing templates with customizable forms to ensure a customized and tailor-made UI experience for your staff. And the customizable instant notifications allow you to automate your reporting processes like never before. You can’t get this kind of automation with a printed form or template. Try out the app now with a free trial, and you’ll be happy you did.