How often do you think about safety in your office? Not the fire safety plan or whether or not the building is structurally sound (for the record, those things are important, think about them, too), but what about the actual climate and environment in your office? The temperature, the lighting, and the air quality are things that you should think about when determining how safe your office is.
Why It Matters
One obvious reason why temperature matters is because the comfort of your employees is important. Sure, so is your bottom line, but if you insist on running the A/C on full blast every day or, worse, keeping the thermostat high to conserve energy, your employees are going to be uncomfortable and will spend more time trying to get comfortable than working. It also lowers office morale so obviously value savings over comfort. You'll never make every person happy, but there are other reasons to keep the thermostat at a reasonable level as well.
Mold thrives in too moist environments and really loves it when the temperature is about 77 degrees. A constantly running air conditioning system may not be draining properly. That means that mold could be growing wherever the water is dripping and then mold spores are blowing back into your office. Ick. If your A/C unit smells musty, there's a chance you have a mold problem and it won't be contained to the unit. At that point, it's best to call a mold remediation team to come and test your building. Mold in an office can cause a lot of sniffles and headaches, which further contributes to the discomfort of your employees and impacts their wellbeing.
Most offices have fluorescent lighting in the ceiling. While standard, fluorescent lighting can actually increase eye strain and that combined with the blue light from your computer all day is likely to cause headaches and decreased productivity. Meanwhile, natural light increases mood and productivity, so how can you maximize the benefits of light in the office. If possible, consider changing the seating arrangements or lower partitions so that everyone can see outside. Could you put in skylights? Look into different types of overhead lighting or invest in blue-light blockers for everyone's computers.
A dank and musty office with no air flow is pretty depressing. Of course, that musty smell could be a sign of mold as discussed earlier so checking that should be your first step. However, there are other ways to increase the air quality in the office. You can ensure that clean air filters are being used in the ventilation system. Ask how you can help the janitorial staff switch to greener cleaning products with less harsh scents. Open the windows on nice days and welcome plants into the office (but first do your research on who is allergic to plants and which plants are allergen-free). Air quality directly affects health. Untreated air can spread germs and allergens that cause colds and itchy noses and eyes.
Other Safety Considerations
There are other factors that can impact the environment of your office space as well.
Clutter isn't just unsightly. A cluttered office space can be a hazard in a number of ways. Maybe you tend to stack boxes of printer paper and toner along the walls or cram filing cabinets in every available space or the lunchroom is a catch-all for everything that doesn't have an assigned landing space. One potential problem is that any of these things could become trip hazards or could injure someone in some way. Boxes that are jutting out too close to a corner could cause someone to stumble or fall. Filing cabinets that aren't installed properly could tip. Stacks of papers and boxes and other paraphernalia can actually grow mold if they're left undisturbed for too long, especially if it's in an area where there tends to be a lot of humidity.
Other than taking out the trash, what does the cleaning schedule look like for the office? Refrigerators not only need to be emptied of their contents on a bimonthly basis, but they should actually be cleaned and disinfected regularly as well. Many hands reaching into the same space that isn't cleaned regularly is a good way to spread germs. Window sills should be checked for excess moisture or leaks. Plants need to be maintained and checked for mold. Dust shouldn't gather on high shelves or along baseboards.
Exterior maintenance also matters so that your building looks appealing, but also so that you can stay on top of any repairs that need to be done which would otherwise compromise your interior office space.
Office safety extends beyond ensuring that you have a fire safety plan and a phone chain for snowy days. By taking particular care of the climate in your office, both environmental and physical, you show your employees that you care about their wellbeing which boosts not only productivity but morale.