Health and safety in the workplace

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Unit 25 – Health and Safety in the Workplace

With guidence from my teacher i have selcted a Call Centre industry, which is based in Wigston.

I have been asked to examine Health and Safety issues in this industry and to produce quideline materials for the Call Centre to follow.

In this unit i will basically explore working conditions and how safe conditions can contribute to the success of the organisation as well as respecting the welfare of the employee.

I am required to examine health and safety in this industry and to consider procedures which will assure higher standards of workplace health and safety.

In order to do this i will address the following four tasks given.

Task 1


I will describe key features of legislation and regulations on health and safety as applied to working conditions in the selected industry.

  1. My chosen industry is a Call Centre, based in Wigston.

  1. I have selected one piece of pre 1990 legislation, which is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1992. I will now describe its key features as applied to working conditions in the Call Centre. Shown below:

Health and safety at work Act

We have laws in order to take precautions and to be safe.

The most important application of health and safety, in the call centre industry are shown below:

  • Working hours should be short, because it could lead to long term stress.
  • The standards relating to the use and sitting of display screen equipment should be good and appropriate, because workers can get Upper Limb Disorders.
  • Call handlers may be at a higher risk from related hazards, as they do not usually have the same opportunities as typical office workers to take breaks from display screen activities. The main work activities required of call handlers are to respond to telephone calls and simultaneously use a computer to provide information and enter data. The job of a typical office worker, however, usually also includes tasks such as photocopying and filing. Changes in task such as these provide typical office workers with opportunities to take breaks from display screen activities that call handlers do not have.
  • Near to every workstation, there should be at least one footrest and a specialist chair.
  • Hot-desking: 'Hot-desking' (i.e. workstations are not assigned, so individuals sit at whichever desk is vacant) is becoming more common in typical offices, but it is standard practice in many call centers. Some call handlers may sit at any workstation within their

team area, and different shifts may also use the same team area. Sometimes, whole teams move to another area in a call centre. Other call handlers sit anywhere in a call centre, not necessarily with their team. Some even hot-desk within a shift, sitting at a different workstation after a break. Hot-desking may affect the health and safety of call handlers so should not be introduced without consultation with call handlers or their representatives in good time

Working Environment

  • 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.

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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 ...

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