There is a serious reason that Health and Safety is so important within the construction industry. There were 65,000 self-reported injuries in the industry between 2014/15 and another 35 incidents were fatal.
Bringing construction work into your office for a refurbishment shouldn’t be treated lightly. You need to maintain safety during your office refurbishments and here is a walk-through guide on how to do it.
Complete A Risk Assessment
Being prepared is the best way to maintain safety of everybody in your office or workplace during the refurbishment. You should complete a risk assessment in the days before work begins. Speak with your contractors who will undertaking the works and ask for a description of when the different elements of their works will be taking place.
You should consider any risks which could arise in the following areas (below) and grade them in terms of likelihood and severity of their consequence should they happen. Lastly, include who will manage the risk and how they will do it.
- Impact on services (electrical, water/WC systems, air conditioning, internet/phone connections, fire alarm)
- Area of work
- Vicinity of work to staff
- Materials being used
- Tools or equipment being used
- Noise creation
- Routes of passage impact
- Safe Exit Route impact
Brief All Staff
Following the completion of the risk assessment, hold a staff briefing and follow it up with an email. This will ensure that staff will not impact on the contractor works or put themselves at risk. It will also avoid any shocks and surprises and ensure staff feel fully informed about the process.
Keep Fire Marshals Constantly Briefed
In all likelihood, there will be times when exit routes and muster points may be changed during office refurbishment works. Make sure your designated fire marshals are full aware and briefed, just in case. They should always make sure that there are adequately placed fire extinguisher points.
Give Prior Notice
If there are going to be any potential hazards – the loading and temporary storing of materials for example – give notice to staff about how long they will be there and to just be more careful than usual.
Maintain Good Housekeeping
This is largely a shared responsibility between yourselves and (but mostly) the working contractor. Any works which create dust or noise should be completed inside dust sheets or by keeping noise to as shorter spells as possible. Keep some periods of the day “noisy activity” free to allow you to continue making phone calls and holding meetings in an appropriate setting.
The creation of both noise and dust is inevitable though. It will have to be a collective responsibility to keep it under control. It would be advisable to remove any sensitive documents, awards, art work etc. from the vicinity of the works.
Building materials need to be properly stored and kept tidy too. Tools, materials waiting to be used and waste debris should be kept constantly tidy and then removed (when possible) at the end of each day.
This will help to avoid trip hazards, which cause nearly a quarter of all construction related injuries. It’s surprising how much of a trip hazard something like stored plasterboards can be to people who aren’t used to being around construction work.
The best way to manage this is to have distinct refurbishment works zones. These can then effectively become a no-go area for your own staff.
There will be times when fire exits, safe exit routes and regular means of passage are taken over by the refurbishment works. Assign responsibility for maintaining and producing signs which tell people where work is happening and when, which areas are out of bounds, what hazards to look out for etc. Here is a list of common signs that you will use often;
- Out of Bounds signs
- Fire Exit and Emergency Exits directional signs
- Temporary regular “safe” route (as in, to the kitchen or bathrooms) directional signs
- Prior notice signs (“this area will be out of bounds tomorrow”)
- Temporary Entry and Exit signs