Office safety inspections are a necessary part of living the office life. The purpose of an inspection is to identify and circumvent any health and safety hazards posed by environmental factors, equipment, employee practices or even janitorial/housekeeping deficiencies. The frequency of an inspection can range from once monthly for a small office to a daily inspection for a large operation.
Some businesses don’t bother performing inspections because of a lack of staff or the belief that a small office doesn’t need to be looked at. Most times, the office building handyman may do a routine walk through, but if there is someone on your staff in charge of running the day to day office operations, having a pair of eyes on these issues can save a great deal of headaches. This can be the receptionist, an office manager or just about anyone willing to take on this task. The most important component of an office safety inspection is that you know what to look out for and are able to separate the minor issues from major ones.
To make things simple you can download a general office safety inspection list to start, but once you become familiar with performing a routine inspection you’ll want to create your own list so it reflects your specific location and equipment.
Not all offices are the same, yet every office at one time or another will run across conditions that can cause potential harm to equipment or people and cause a disruption to the workday. While many things found during an inspection can be obvious, like burned out light bulbs or broken furniture, keep your eye out for the not-so-obvious culprits to major downtime and high repair costs.
The following are five of the most overlooked issues during office safety inspections that can potentially lead to major downtime, and huge repair costs or injuries if they are not caught early:
Pay attention to out of the ordinary smells. Is it forgotten trash? Dead rodents, or something more serious? Smells can alert you to pending problems like mold, gas leaks or plumbing issues. Check out the area where the smell is located. Is it near equipment? If so, what equipment is nearby? A description of the smell can be a very helpful indicator when reporting the issue. Keep a log of these occurrences and if something seems out of the ordinary get a professional involved immediately.
Look out for random puddles on the floor, wet drywall or wet carpets around radiators. Pay attention to areas where pipes are exposed. A leaky pipe can be a warning for pipe corrosion which happens a lot in older office buildings or a pending pipe burst. Call a plumber right away. Also, be sure to check around the openings and seals of the windows for signs of leaks like old water stains and rust. During rainy weather, make sure the rain stays where it belongs – outside!
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Listen out for strange noises coming from office equipment like the air conditioners. A very small office may have window units to which this would not apply. Offices that rely on central air are more likely to have noisy issues. The major culprit to squeaky noises coming from vents is worn belts. If not addressed right away, the noise may get louder and disruptive, at best or the AC can go down, at worst. A lot of office workers will notice weird sounds and let it go as something someone else will deal with. But being proactive in your workspace can save a great deal of potential downtime.
Any appliance that takes filters should be checked regularly. This includes air conditioning units, heaters, air purifiers, humidifiers, water filtering equipment, etc. Just like equipment at home, when used in an office setting, filters will get dirtier more often than not. Depending on what type of filter it is, these small overlooked parts can result in poor air quality issues, bad tasting water, and/or can spread germs. A very dirty filter will cause machines to work harder than usual, causing electric bills to soar, parts to overheat and eventually the equipment can burn out which will be a larger expense than just changing the filter. Stay on top of changes by keeping a calendar reminder to check filters every 3 months.
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Never ignore rodent droppings. If you come across small round pellets that are dark in color, sprawled in clusters in corners of the kitchen area, or around open food inside of desk drawers, chances are you have mice. If there are mouse poison traps laid around the office, you may see green pellets trailing from the trap to its final resting place. If you see them in broad daylight, chances are you have an infestation. Check your office for open food sources and remove them fast. Call pest control immediately.
One last but very important additional thing not to overlook in a small office – smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. It’s best to keep a reminder on the calendar to test the smoke detectors every month. Do not let a dying battery beep until its last beep. Sometimes a beep is an indication that the unit is faulty or experiencing some other malfunction. Remember to keep fresh batteries handy.
An office safety inspection is one of the most overlooked activities when running an office, but staying on top of your operations will lead to a happier, healthier better functioning workspace.