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Tips for maintaining staff safety during an office redesign

Posted by Trevor
March 23, 2014 in Features

When your office undergoes major structural work, it can be a stressful time for everybody. However, the personal safety of you and your employees is paramount. Here are some crucial factors to be aware of:

Be prepared

When planning an  office fit out  office fit out, it is important that your contractors obtain accurate building records. This means that any problems, such as asbestos, are known about in advance and can be dealt with accordingly.

It also helps to know where underground services are and to understand the general structural stability of the building. This will prevent any accidental damage to the building and its associated utility supplies.

You will need to ensure that an adequate power supply is maintained if staff are to remain in the building while work is carried out. Be sure to ask your contractors to inform you in advance about any outages or shortages.

It is best if staff can relocate temporarily, as this is the safest option and allows building work to be carried out more efficiently. However, as this is not always possible, communication becomes key to ensuring staff safety.

Communication is crucial

It is best if you can liaise with contractors to give your staff a detailed programme of work well in advance, and to continue to communicate clearly throughout. It is also beneficial to have weekly and daily updates, to make sure everyone is constantly aware of what work is being done and where.

Staff should be encouraged to report any instances of contractors failing to apply to the required health and safety standards, for example, if they leave equipment lying around in staff areas.

Along with communication, there is a need to restrict staff access to possible danger areas, and also to limit the movement of workmen so they are not encroaching on areas where staff are working.

Hazards come in different guises

Hazards, such as dust and noise, need to be considered so that they are not making an impact on your employees. Ask contractors to make sure dust and dirt are kept away from any areas where your staff are working, using seals if needed.

Also, work with contractors to ensure that noise is not too loud in your employees’ working areas. You may need to ask whether noise levels could be reduced on occasion.

Consider the general disturbance your staff will experience due to having workmen in the vicinity. There may be the possibility that workers will have to move to different parts of the building while construction is being carried out. If so, this will all have to be thought through in advance and communicated clearly so your staff know exactly what to expect, as well as understanding which are the safe areas and which are the hazardous zones.

It is important to know what to do in emergencies, as evacuation routes may have to change as a result of building work. Ideally, a new fire drill should be carried out whenever escape routes and exits are altered, so that the new routes are fresh in the minds of your staff.

Finally, it is an excellent idea to mark the end of the period of disruption and the beginning of life in your newly refurbished office with a celebration of some kind, as your employees will be sure to appreciate it.

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