Safety in the office

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Leads 2 Business : office safety


‘It’s all fun and games, until someone looses an eye”


A hackneyed expression to be sure, but true. Nobody likes to think how something can go wrong; how people can be hurt in a situation; never mind plan against it. Where’s the fun in that? But even fewer people like dealing with these types of situations when they do occur. They are stressful at least and scary at worst. People’s health and safety is paramount when it comes down to it.


Extreme working environments tend to get the most buzz, when it comes to health and safety. Work environments where large machinery is used or people are working at heights or great depths or working with chemicals and extreme temperatures. Work environments that hiss and clang and are impressive to all of the senses. The average general office doesn’t usually spring to mind. However, the office cannot be left out. They say that the most accidents happen in the home or the most car accidents happen very close to home. Why? I think it’s because people let their guard down. They relax. Accidents happen, when we aren’t paying attention. Now I’m not an advocate for going around constantly wearing a hard hat doing risk assessment on the go. Come on. That isn’t realistic. But treating life like it isn’t going to happen to you; is a recipe for disaster.


Health and Safety in South Africa is legislated under the Health and Safety Act and basically tasks employers with ensuring the safety of their employees; and employees with the active prevention and reporting of potential dangerous situations. Offices must have sufficient fire exits in case of emergency evacuations. There must be a designated meeting area outside, to do a head count and ensure that everyone got out of the building. The office has fire extinguishers, that are regularly checked and maintained. The staff should know how to use them. Something about “pulling a tab, spraying and holding on”. There are staff that have basic first aid training, and a first aid box to deal with minor accidents. There’s security services; alarm systems, panic buttons and physical security guards. Employees have the responsibility to not only look out for themselves but also their colleagues and their employer as a whole. An employee will notice a problem (for example a shorting wall plug) before the employer and they must report it. Reporting faulty equipment as well as wiring and plumbing is essential in ensuring a safe working environment. The prompt and correct fixing of said problems is even more important. Employees must be vigilant with their own safety, as this ensures the safety of others. External doors must be closed at all times, preventing unknown persons from entering the premises. Those that smoke must make sure that their cigarette butts are completely extinguished to prevent any unnecessary and dangerous fires. Spills of any sort have to be mopped up to prevent slips and falls. If any glass gets broken, this must be swept up immediately. The correct and responsible use of equipment is paramount at all times, especially kitchen equipment. Anything that produces boiling water or scalding steam must be shown the due respect. No one wants to have to deal with blistered hands or worse. The new coffee machine sounds like ye ol’ steam locomotive when it gets going. The amount of pressurised steam in that thing, is quite unnerving. (They’ve been known to explode, you know that right?) There’s a level of common sense required when dealing with people’s safety. Common sense sometimes goes walkabout, and one silly decision can have far reaching consequences. I tend to refer to it as “The Stupid”. It’s a moment in time where a choice is made. “The Stupid” chooses short quick fixes over the time consuming, safer and ultimately smarter choice. “The Stupid” won’t have to worry about where the first aid kit is or how the fire extinguisher works, because it will inevitability be someone else who will have that responsibility, as “The Stupid” will be unconscious or on fire at that point.


People can be hurt or dead in a blink of an eye. The weird and varied ways people can be hurt or killed, is staggering and frankly, terrifying. No one can live their lives wrapped in bubble wrap, but showing a complete disregard for the safety of themselves and others is the ultimate in disrespect. You can’t go back. None of us can. We can control only so much, and that little we can control can go a long way in ensuring a safe and supportive work environment.

About Claire Donaldson

I started working at Leads 2 Business in February 2005, and have served as Head of Department of Daily Tenders from 2007 until the present. I oversee both the Daily Tenders South Africa and Africa Departments.

Leads 2 Business : Construction Safety

Safety in Construction

posted in: Safety 0



Construction is a dangerous, high hazard industry that includes a wide range of activities involving construction, alterations, repairs, additions, building and renovations. These also include residential construction, bridges, roadway paving, excavations and demolitions. Yep, and blasting with explosives, working with huge machinery and dangerous electrical equipment.

Construction safety is very important to prevent fatal and non-fatal injuries as well as many other different illnesses. Workers in the construction sector have greater exposure to biological, chemical and ergonomic risk factors as well as noise and extreme temperatures. It is also one of the most physically demanding sectors.

Serious potential hazards are:

– Falling from heights / rooftops
– Unguarded machinery
– Being struck by heavy construction equipment
– Scaffold collapse
– Electric shock
– Trench collapse
– Failure to use proper protection
– Repetitive motion injuries
– Silica dust and asbestos

Nearly 6.5 million people work at approximately 252,000 construction sites across South Africa on any given day.

Things to look out for regarding your personal safety:

* aerial lifts (take the stairs, although those are hazardous for me as I keep tripping down them!)
* arc welding
* electrical and fire hazards
* bio-hazard safety (I am always spilling stuff!)
* boom collapsing (one has collapsed on my head in a parking area!)
* carbon monoxide poisoning
* carpal tunnel syndrome
* electric cord safety (don’t ever want to be shocked in that way!)
* falling objects (wear your helmet)
* eye protection (not just a fashion statement!)
* ladders (not just for the superstitious, these can really be dangerous!)
* protective clothing such as helmets, gloves, shoes, etc
* nail guns (ouch….hurts just to say it).
* power lines (not something you want to drill into, could be a shocking experience)
* power saws (turning an ordinary day into something from a scary movie)
* roof collapse
* trench safety (you don’t want to dig your own grave)

Safety Tips:

1. Use the proper tool for the designated task.
2. Frequent use of inadequate or poorly designed equipment will eventually lead to health hazards, for example tendinitis, trigger finger, white finger, carpal tunnel syndrome.
3. Protect your ears and eyes from intense noises and vibrations; opt for power tools with lower vibrations, muffled noises, and longer trigger tools.
4. Maintain good posture and balance the tools in correct alignment to your body at all times.
5. Always be aware of your surroundings. Look out for overhead lines, obstructions, low clearances, underground utilities, and other such obstacles that could prove to be a nuisance or a lethal hazard.
6. Know, understand, and follow your work space’s comprehensive safety program issued for that specific workspace, job position, and / or task at hand.
7. Don’t use damaged tools – examine each one before its use to ensure that it is in proper working condition. Maintain tools in good, clean working order
8. Never use a damaged or in any way weakened scaffold and don’t use in bad weather especially if covered with snow or ice
9. Don’t leave materials or debris abandoned or blocking exits
10. Keep tools in your belt to keep your hands free while climbing and descending.
11. Never touch a chemical spill
12. Always wear appropriate clothing and shoes respective to your job.
13. Fire extinguishers and First Aid kits must be available and readily attainable.
14. Never remove or tamper with safety devices.
15. A hard hat will protect you if there’s a risk of falling objects, as well steel-toed boots.
16. Wear gloves if you’re handling sharp objects or toxic substances.
17. Wear goggles if your work poses a hazard to your eyes.
18. Wear safety harnesses if you’re working from an elevated location and there’s the risk of falling. (If you are anything like me, you can trip and fall over literally anything. So having a guardrail or something to grab onto is really a life saver).
19. Wear a breathing mask at all times, especially if you deal with dangerous or toxic chemicals or fumes or there is poor ventilation or your workspace has debris, dust, and other flying particles.

20. Equipment onsite should have lights and reflectors. Especially when working at night, this is to see and to be seen.


All employees should be trained to understand the proper way of identifying possible hazards and understanding on how to avoid dangerous situations. They also need to be made aware of the correct procedures to follow should something happen.
The contractor is responsible for providing a safe work environment for employees and pedestrians.

Although the construction industry is dangerous, construction conditions have improved over the years. As technology increases, so do the safety and working conditions.

Knowledge is power and in this case, without knowledge that power could kill you 😉 Rather be safe than sorry and watch where you are walking 🙂\

About Michelle Crosby

I started my journey at Leads 2 Business in the Directory Department in 2012. I was then promoted to the Private Projects Department in 2014 and was recently promoted to Projects HOD this year.