Research by the World Health Organization suggests every $1 invested in workplace health and employee well-being can yield a 4X return in terms of improved health and productivity. This highlights the importance of health and safety at work, as it can have a significant impact on the quality of life and workplace culture. Yet, as per the work health and safety (WHS) statistics, there were over 120,355 serious work health and safety claims in 2021. Imagine the data as of today!
Although it is relatively straightforward to recognize the potential hazards in high-risk work environments, identifying health and safety issues in an office setting can be more challenging. Workplace design can thus act as an effective tool in creating a healthy and safe work environment, thereby boosting workplace productivity and the overall workplace experience.
#healthforall: A Healthy and Safe Workplace
A healthy and safe workplace today has become an important aspect of the employer value proposition. Moreover, the importance of physical and mental health at work has gained more importance in current times. Employers now have a responsibility to ensure that their employees are provided with safe and healthy working conditions as part of their duty of care.
But, how can employers leverage the power of workplace design to achieve this? Let’s have a look at the following aspects:
- Prioritizing office ergonomics to reduce physical strain and fatigue.
- Designing spaces that encourage movement and break the monotony of sedentary work styles.
- Incorporating safety measures to prevent slips, trips, and falls, as well as addressing electrical and fire hazards.
- Creating a workspace that promotes autonomy and offers employees a choice and control over their environment.
- Workplace design with provisions for acoustic control, clean air quality, and easy access.
By taking these factors into consideration during the design process, employers can help promote a culture of safety, health, and well-being in the workplace. Let us now understand each of these aspects in detail.
Prioritizing Office Ergonomics
Office ergonomics pertains to the planning and organization of work areas and equipment with the goal of ensuring safe and efficient work performance. In a workplace setting where employees regularly resort to working at a desk, ergonomic issues are prevalent, making it crucial to prioritize ergonomics with comfortable seatings, height adjustable setups, furniture that help retain good posture, etc.
To implement good work design in your office, it is vital to take into account several factors, such as
- Work bays must be designed with proper alignment of the screen and keyboard, which allows employees to have a good work posture, thereby eliminating the need to twist either the head or body.
- Work setups must be designed such that the height of the screen, the keyboard, the desk, and the chair can be adjusted to a level that provides comfort to the employee. In certain instances, footrests and screen risers can be useful in achieving this goal.
- Workstations must be oriented in a way that prevents any glares or reflections on the screen, minimizing the chances of employees having to work in uncomfortable positions.
To guarantee the safety and comfort of your employees, it is important to invest in appropriate office furniture and equipment.
Extended periods of sedentary work can cause monotony in the workplace. Statistics reveal that prolonged sitting can be detrimental to an individual’s health, increasing physical strain. To diminish sedentary behavior in your office, there are various design-based approaches you can take.
Designing buffer areas, casual and open collaboration spaces, and agile setups encourage employees to take periodic breaks from their desks to help them stay active.
Additionally, promoting a culture that emphasizes standing and varying work tasks to encourage posture changes can be helpful.
Moreover, design concepts like neighborhood planning and multi-modal work bays facilitate different buffer spaces at equal intervals, thereby encouraging movement.
Designing for Safety
Factors, such as slippery or wet surfaces, and unexpected steps, can increase the likelihood of slips, trips, and falls. These hazards can cause significant harm to employees, making it essential to take necessary precautions to manage them.
Firstly, it is crucial to identify and evaluate the current risks present in your office. Secondly, there must be provisions in the design to accommodate aspects of the universal design, which makes the spaces safe and conducive to diverse user needs. Provisions in the design must cater to indicate a difference in levels, making spaces accessible, and by using materials that are safe and healthy.
Ensure the Healthy and Safety of your Workplace
Workplace health and safety are crucial aspects for the employers to navigate the future of work. Our team of designers, WELL APs, and strategists at Zyeta can help you transform your workspace into a hub of health, safety, and well-being.
As both an Architect and Architectural Journalist, he thrives on building unique content, with words and thoughts--as his brick and mortar. A natural-born explorer, he puts no limits on things he's passionate about diving into, be it cuisines, cultures or books. An avid fiction reader and a chronic over-thinker, he still finds enough time to be happy-go-lucky and easy to approach.