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-By Danlami Nasir Isah

Every room where people work should have sufficient floor area, height and unoccupied space for purposes of health, safety and welfare. While additional accommodation may be necessary if there is a need for wheelchair access, generally in offices 4.65 square metres is the minimum amount of floor space required for each person working in a room (This includes the area occupied by an office desk and chair but excludes filing cabinets and other office furniture).

The regulations do not specify a maximum temperature but, as a guide, a minimum comfortable working temperature for indoor sedentary workers is reckoned to be 16º Centigrade within one hour from the start of work with the maximum comfortable working temperature at 27º Centigrade (when undertaking light duties).

Workplaces need to be adequately ventilated. Windows or other openings may provide sufficient ventilation but, where air conditioning is provided this should be regularly maintained.

Natural light
Lighting should be sufficient to enable people to work and move about safely. If necessary, local lighting should be provided at individual workstations and at places of particular risk such as corridors and stairs. Lighting and light fittings should not create any hazard. Automatic emergency lighting, powered by an independent source, should be provided where sudden loss of light would create a risk.

Workstations and Breaks Away from the Screen
Employers must plan work at visual display units (VDUs) so that it is interrupted periodically by breaks or changes in activities to reduce exposure to the VDU. Although regulations set no required breaks, no single continuous period of work at a screen should not exceed one hour. If you use a VDU as a significant part of your daily work, you have a right to seek appropriate eye tests which must be made available and paid for by your employer.

Manual handling
Where manual handling is required, clear guidelines should be followed. For details, see the websites of the Republic’s Health and Safety Authority – – or the UK’s Health and Safety Executive –

Every workplace must have clear evacuation procedures in place and carry out regular fire drills to ensure employees are aware of the procedures.

Slips, Trips and Falls
The main causes of slips, trips and falls in the workplace are:
• uneven floor surfaces;
• unsuitable floor coverings;
• wet floors;
• changes in levels;
• trailing cables;
• poor lighting; and
• poor housekeeping.
If you fall, seek medical assistance if required; notify your employer about the incident; ensure a report is filed if necessary, and demand that the hazard is removed.

Work-Related Stress
Workplace stress occurs when the demands of the job and/or the working environment exceeds a worker’s capacity to meet them. The symptoms of stress may be physical, mental and/or behavioural. You should familiarise yourself with your employer’s policy on stress.

Bullying and Harassment
Bullying in the workplace is a health and safety issue. It can lead to health problems and give rise to further safety issues. It is also an industrial relations matter – and may have legal consequences. Employers have a duty of care to all employees, to ensure they are both mentally and physically safe at work and that their health is not adversely affected by anything or anyone in the working environment. This duty of care means employers must behave and respond reasonably in such matters.

Kindly note that the information outlined in this piece is intended for guidance only – and should not be regarded as a definitive statement.

Credit: NHS Foundation – Central & North West London