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Workplace safety inside the reception area
The reception areas in any building are the first point of contact for visitors and service users. In the last blog we reviewed controlling the access and exit of people in and out of a building. This blog is a continuation of advice and recommendations on health and safety aspect as we take a tour of a building. The first stopping point is the reception area.
Once they are inside the building the receptionist has the important role of managing people who may have appointments or are making enquiries. In addition, the receptionist has to manage the contractors who are providing a service within the building. On top of a constant stream of visitors the receptionist has to take deliveries and post which come through this area.
The reception area is the work environment of the receptionist and, as such, needs to be risk assessed. The work environment should be monitored routinely to ensure a high level of safety. The reception area is part of the workplace and so must meet the requirements of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
Users with a disability
Ensuring that the reception area is suitable for people with disabilities needs to be part of the risk assessment process. The Equality Act 2010 defines a person with disabilities as ‘someone with a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’. I will review specific health and safety considerations for users with disabilities in a future blog, and highlight recommendations, practical guidance and good practice to ensure that the environment remains safe for all users.
The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
The employer needs to ensure that the reception area and all the equipment within, such as computers, phones, fixtures and fittings are well-maintained. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 sets out the following:
- Regulation 5 (1) requires the workplace, and equipment, devices and systems be maintained (including cleaned as appropriate) in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair. The employer needs to ensure that the reception area is maintained. This will include portable appliance testing of all portable equipment, inspection checks on air condition and any other electrical installations.
- Regulation 6 (1) requires that the workplace is ventilated by a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air. This can easily be achieved by opening a window where appropriate or installing air conditioning if there is no other means of having a change in air circulation.
- Regulation 7 (1) requires that, during working hours, the temperature in all workplaces shall be reasonable. If you have problems with fluctuating temperatures, or are unsure of the extent of the problem, then place thermometers in different parts of the building to check the temperature. A method of heating the reception when it is cold, or cooling it in the hot weather, is required. This is sometimes an issue as the front door is generally opposite the reception and cold air can suddenly change the air temperature, making it uncomfortable for the receptionist. The location of the reception desk or type of door may need to be reviewed.
- Regulation 8 (1) requires every workplace have suitable and sufficient lighting. This can be achieved with different types of lighting where environmental consideration can also be accounted for by using low wattage.
- Regulation 9 requires every workplace to be kept clean and waste materials to be removed. The cleaning schedule should cover the furniture, furnishings, fittings and surfaces of the floors, walls and ceilings. Equipment such as the telephone and computer keyboard that the receptionist uses should be cleaned. Cleaning the reception area helps to prevent spread of microbes as this area gets a high level of people passing through. At the entrance to the building it is recommended that an infection control policy and an antibacterial pump is provided for those entering.
QCS has both health and safety and infection control guidance and policies. In my next blog on safety inside the reception area we will review more workplace requirements that will help you to ensure a safe place of work.
Sally Beck RGN, BSc (Hons), MSc, CMIOSH – QCS Expert Health and Safety Contributor