Health and safety in the workplace

Proper control of the environment in call centers is very important. Working practices such as ’24/7′ (24 hours per day, seven days per week) occupancy and layout changes are much more common in call centers than in typical offices, and the effect of these on the environment should also be covered in the risk assessment. Responding to seasonal variations in terms of heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and lighting etc should also be addressed as well as the maintenance programme for the environmental conditions control system and the cleaning programme for the office furnishings and equipment.

The cleaning regime for workstation equipment should be particularly strict if call handlers are required to hot-desk. The introduction of any change to any aspect of environmental conditions which may substantially affect call handlers’ health and safety should be made in consultation with call handlers or their representatives in good time. – The layout of the call centre should be in opening spaced and flexible. If this has not been anticipated in the design of the environmental conditions control system, problems may arise such as new privacy screens interrupting airflow and leading to pockets of stagnant air.

Call centre should be ventilated with either fresh air from outside or re-circulated air that has been adequately filtered and purified. This is to ensure that stale, contaminated, hot or humid air is removed, so workers do not suffer ill health effects such as tiredness, lethargy, headaches, dry or itchy skin and eye irritation. Adequate ventilation is particularly important in call centers, as the high concentration of employees and high level of occupation increase the risk of airborne pollutants and irritants.

These, in turn, increase the risk of sickness absence, as bacteria and viruses can cause colds, and dust can irritate the throat and lungs which may contribute to voice problems or trigger asthma. Adequate ventilation also reduces the risk of allergic reactions from volatile organic compounds, such are released by certain glues, paints and carpets, and, with such rapid growth, many call centers are in buildings that have been recently constructed or refurbished, and these materials may have been used. – Breaks from the headsets help to control call handlers’ daily noise exposure.

Breaks give call handlers’ eyes an opportunity to focus at different distances and the chance to rest so reducing the risk of visual fatigue and associated symptoms such as headaches. – Giving the voice a break from talking to customers may reduce the risk of voice health problems. – With more frequent breaks, call handlers may also be able to cope better with the demands of their work. No loose wires/ cables The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 requires that you provide the workers with a safe place of work.

Health and safety legislation used to specify actions that an employer must take – for example, with regard to the temperature of a workplace, or the number of fire exits. With the enactment of EU directives in 1992 (fully coming into force by 1996) duties have become wider but vaguer, often requiring employers simply to be ‘reasonable’. Some regulations are specific to industries with known hazards, such as mining or chemical plants. Others apply to all workplaces, including ‘benign’ environments like offices. Criminal prosecution is the price of a serious breach, especially if a fatality or injury has occurred.

If found guilty, you can be fined and/or face jail – for up to two years in some cases. For less serious breaches, Health & Safety Inspectors may demand improvements to safety, or prohibit some activities altogether. In addition to meeting all statutory requirements, you have a common law duty not negligently to expose staff to harm whilst at work. Otherwise you risk being sued for civil damages by an injured employee or, in the case of death, their dependents. Such cases often rely on failures to conform to health and safety requirements as evidence of civil liability.

Finally, employees must also take reasonable care whilst at work both for their own protection and that of others. Any training necessary to ensure the safe undertaking of a job must be provided by the employer. All workers, whether they are permanent staff, agency or contractors, need to be aware of issues that affect their health and safety at work. These web pages are about helping workers become more aware of the health and safety issues that affect them and their responsibilities, so they can play their part in improving health and safety in the workplace.

If the helth and safety was not there, people would not do the work. (c) From the five remaining pices of legislation from the task sheet, i have selected 2 those are appropraite to my industry, and i will describe their key features as applied to working conditions. Fire precautions Act 1971 – The Fire Certificate: – is a legal document that you are required to keep in your premise available for inspection. It specifies that the building Owner and the occupiers are responsible for maintaining the Fire Safety Standard of the building and Fire Safety Provisions.

The Owner is responsible for the common parts and common or shared systems. Tenants are responsible for fire safety within their occupancy and common or shared systems. Basic principle – Employers have a duty to make plans for the safety of employees in the case of a fire and employees have a duty to co-operate. Does everyone need a Fire Certificate? – No! Shops and railway premises do not but there are further guidelines for them in the Approved Code of Practice 1989. Currently all premises are re-inspected by the Fire Brigade.

However, in the future it is likely that only premises with a high risk of danger to life will be policed by the fire authorities. Insurance companies themselves may well inspect the premises. Who Needs a Fire Certificate? – Buildings where 21+ people are employed, on site, at any one time, buildings where 11+ people are employed either above or below ground level, A building where explosive materials are used/stored. Hotels and boarding houses which sleep 7+ people above or below ground floor level.

However, even if you do not need a fire certificate, all occupied premises must have an adequate means of escape in case of fire and a means of fighting the fire. The Fire Brigade is happy to come along and give a Goodwill advice session. But do a risk assessment yourself first. A Fire Certificate – This is issued by the Fire Brigade and it should include the following: What the premises are used for and are there any flammable or explosive items used/stored Location of fire exits and escapes, alarm systems and fire extinguishers etc. and procedures for testing and maintenance, training and fire drills.

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