Tuesday 23 October 2018
 
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Work safety in spotlight

Dubai, October 2, 2007

Despite the common belief that the office provides a safe working environment, many hazards do exist, which cause injuries and health problems among workers.

Today’s modern offices are substantially different from the office environment of 20 years ago. Sweeping changes have occurred in the workplace as a result of new office technology and automation. Consequently, office workers are faced with many more hazards.

For the UAE-based Bafco, a leading provider of office furniture and interior turnkey solutions, safe design is an integral part of any project.

Usually, most interior designers in the UAE focus on decorating such as choosing a style and colour palette and then selecting appropriate furniture for office.

“However, at Bafco we are becoming more involved in safe architectural detailing within the workspace. We have a team of qualified interior designers who read the blueprints, understand office space and then move in to transform the workspace into safe and comfortable environment,” Bafco design director, Jamal S Kabbani says.

Kabbani says in addition to obvious hazards such as a slippery floor or an open file drawer, a modern office may also contain hazards such as machines which emit noxious gases and fumes, poor lighting, noise, poorly designed furniture and equipment. Even the nature of office work itself has produced a host of stress-related symptoms and musculoskeletal strains.

For example, long hours at the video display terminal (VDT) can cause pain in the neck and back, eyestrain and a general feeling of tension and irritability.

Kabbani says light plays a major role especially in the office since, “here we are creating light for people!”

Light can affect human productivity and can stimulate interest and maximise effectiveness. It is a mistaken belief that lighting is all about creating a uniform lighting level across the whole space.

“What is actually required is consistency across each task area,” he says.

In the open space, the lighting level can vary subject to the design theme and visual impact needs to be created to stimulate the internal habitants, he says.

Ventilation is a key issue in office interiors. Sources of air pollution in the office that can cause health problems include natural agents (carbon monoxide, micro-organisms and radon) and synthetic chemicals (formaldehyde, cleaning fluids, cigarette smoke and asbestos).

While doing the interiors, Bafco ensures an adequate office ventilation system which delivers quality indoor air and provides for comfortable humidity and temperature.

Where printing or copying machines are present, an exhaust ventilation system that draws particulates and gases away from the employees’ breathing zone is installed.

Office machines and ventilation system components should be checked and maintained on a regular basis, he says.

In an office, workers can be subjected to various sources of noise pollution, such as VDT, high-speed printers, telephones and human voices, which can result in tension and stress, as well as damage to the hearing ability. Bafco’s measures to control unwanted noise include, placing noisy machines in an enclosed space, using carpeting, draperies, and acoustical ceiling tiles to muffle noise, adjusting the telephone volume to its lowest level and rearranging circulation corridors within the office to reduce traffic within and between work areas.

Kabbani says poor design and/or poor housekeeping can lead to crowding, lack of privacy, slips, trips, and falls. Therefore, Bafco considers the following important factors related to office layout and orderliness:

• At least 3 ft distance between desks and at least 50 sq ft per employee;

• Keep telephone and electrical cords out of aisles;

• Group employees who use the same machines;

• Office machines should be kept away from edges of desks an




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