Generic office risk assessment

An outline of the potential hazards inherent in working in an office space.


Title of activity: Working in offices and general areas.
Location(s) of work: Informatics Forum, Appleton Tower
Brief description of work: Day-to-day work in an office environment.  


HAZARD IDENTIFICATION: Identify all the hazards; evaluate the risks (low / medium / high); describe all existing control measures and identify any further measures required. Specific hazards should be assessed on a separate risk assessment form and cross-referenced with this document. Specific assessments are available for hazardous substances, biological agents, display screen equipment, manual handling operations and fieldwork. 

See the University's Risk Assessment Information for details.



HAZARD(s) RISK L / M / H CONTROL MEASURES (i.e.alternative work methods/mechanical aids/engineering controls, etc.)
Slips and trips   L
  1. Work areas should be kept clear of obstructions. 
  2. Any spillages should be cleaned up immediately.
  3. All areas well lit, especially stairs.
  4. Any hazards such as torn carpets, trailing cables, defects to floor coverings, faulty lighting etc. should be reported immediately to the Admin Office or H&S Manager.
Electrical equipment (electric shocks or burns from using faulty electrical equipment) L
  1. All portable electrical equipment must be tested for electrical safety at correct intervals and labelled with the date of the test.
  2. Electrical cables and plugs should be regularly visually inspected by the user for damage.  
  3. Any defective equipment should be reported immediately to the Admin Office or H&S Manager, then suitably labelled and taken out of use until the repair has been effected.
  4. Electrical equipment must always be operated in accordance with manufacturers' instructions.
Display Screen Equipment (postural problems, eye strains, headaches)   L
  1. Where Display Screen Equipment (DSE) is used a workstation risk assessment must be carried out. 
  2. Where laptops and notebooks are used as a significant part of day-to-day work a risk assessment must be carried out.
  3. Work planned to include regular breaks from the computer.
  4. Users of Display Screen Equipment should be informed of their right to a free eye test.
  5. OHS leaflet “Are you keying safely” should be issued to DSE users.
Manual handling of heavy/bulky objects (back injuries) L
  1. A risk assessment must be completed for lifting heavy and bulky loads that present a risk of injury.
  2. A trolley should be used to transport boxes of paper or other heavy items. 
  3. High shelves for light items only.
  4. Training in lifting techniques should be provided for anyone who undertakes the lifting of heavy loads.
Fire L
  1. The storage of empty cardboard boxes should be kept to an absolute minimum.
  2. Equipment should be switched off when not in use for long periods.
  3. All portable electrical equipment must be tested for electrical safety at appropriate intervals.
  4. The fire alarm system is installed, maintained and tested.
  5. Fire risk assessments for each building should be carried out annually.
  6. Everyone must be acquainted with the Fire Routine Procedure for their area.
  7. Fire Stewards must be appointed to cover offices and general areas.
Working at height   L
  1. Chairs or desks must not be used for reaching heights, step stools should be used instead.
  2. If a stepladder is used, staff/students should read an appropriate risk assessment and be shown how to use it safely.
Hazardous Substances   L
  1. If any hazardous substances e.g. solvents or solvent-based glues are used within the office area a COSHH risk assessment must be completed and a safe system of work issued to the users.
Filing cabinets L
  1. Filing cabinets should be loaded from the bottom up to maintain stability.
  2. Where filing cabinets are of the type that allows more than one drawer to be opened at a time, they must be labelled with a warning of a tipping risk.
  3. Drawers should be closed immediately after use.
Falling objects L
  1. To prevent injuries heavy items must not be stored on upper shelves. They should be stored at waist height.
Lone / Out of Hours (LOOH) Working L
  1. LOOH work should be minimised or avoided where feasible.
  2. If LOOH working is unavoidable, familiarisation with the Generic LOOH Risk Assessment is recommended.
  3. Specific LOOH Risk Assessment may be required in circumstances where any potential risks are increased (e.g. expectant mothers, persons with mobility issues or medical conditions).



Persons at Risk: Identify all those who may be at risk.

Academic staff x Technical staff x Postgraduate students x Undergraduate students  
Maintenance staff   Office staff x Cleaning staff   Emergency personnel  
Contractors   Visitors x Others      

Additional Information: Identify any additional relevant information to the activity, including supervision, training requirements, special emergency procedures, requirement for health surveillance, etc.


Staff members and Postgraduate Students should be familiar with the General Office and Common Areas Safety page.


Assessment carried out by:
Name: David Hamilton Date: 25/04/2019 Review Date:  25/04/2020