Safety and Health Magazine published an article in June of 2011 about how businesses should recognize hidden dangers in the workspace, taking steps to make the office a safer place. Administrative intervention was put in place to avoid slips and falls, walking into equipment, ergonomic challenges and training. If only it were still that simple today.
OSHA published a COVID-19 update in November 2020, stating todays’ primary safety alert now focuses on improving workplace ventilation. Additionally, the most overlooked violations include a lack of on-site medical evaluations, detailed health and safety records, effective PPE stations, as well as hygiene specific policies and procedures.
Physical distancing in the office goes beyond the 6 feet or 2-meter mark. It involves flexible schedules, staggered shifts, plexiglass partitions, disinfecting workstations, directional signage, food and bio break timetables. It must be taken into consideration that not every desk or workstation is the same.
When workplaces were changing from cubicle to open plan, there were constants that required further discussion. Finance and HR departments with sensitive information needed to be protected from the lack of privacy in this type of environment. Workplaces progressed again from open plan to zero address offices, causing additional constants that were realized. Among these were IT departments with specialist equipment that could not be moved. Now with the evolving health and safety guidelines, what constants might we be forgetting about.
Many changes had to be made to allow staff to return to the workplace. Change will continue to be the constant to ensure health and safety standards remain current and up to date. A desk with specialist equipment needs to be considered safe at all times. Whereas a desk in a major circulation zone or next to a highly used piece of equipment, i.e. a photocopier, should be considered constantly hazardous. These high traffic workstations need to be removed from the everyday changes that are necessary to get staff safely back into the office. Using a workspace management system such as Accordant, makes it easy to distinguish constant desks from those that can be changed.
Accordant’s Back to Work toolkit enables companies to automate a variety of otherwise tedious processes, including creating shifts and visualizing social distancing at workstations. The Good Desk Bad Desk feature means that desks with a constant can be quickly removed from the automated process. By marking a desk as ‘good’ it will be shown as constantly usable: marking a desk as ‘bad’ is shown as constantly unusable. This is just one of many challenges’ management is having to consider when maintaining a safe workspace for as many people as possible, each and every shift.
The workplace will continue to change even after the Pandemic subsides, including many of those newly required standards that have been realized in 2020. Will workplaces become destinations for collaboration rather than everyday workstations, or will we see a regression to individual desks with partitions? Whatever the outcome it will require expert management using Accordant for the best in technology.