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Office Safety: My Office IS safe! How to do a safety audit in your office

When you hear (or read) the word “audit”, what comes to your mind?  This word normally evokes fear and the thought of an IRS agent showing up at your door.  In reality an audit is a systematic checkup to ensure that prescribed criteria are being met.  Safety audits are a significant part of most safety management processes in high-risk industries, but not so much in office-centric workplaces.

Why would anyone want to conduct an audit of office safety?  And if one wanted to do an office safety audit, what would it look like?  If you have a safety department in your organization, you may want to ask for some assistance.  If no safety department is available, here some things that you can do to do a self-audit of your office area:

• Check to see if all walkways are clear of obstruction, debris, water, and other slip or trip hazards.
• Inspect all exits (inside and outside) to see if they are clear and are unlocked for egress.
• Look around to see if general housekeeping is evident.
• Review shelving to ensure that heaviest items are stored on the bottom shelves and that load ratings have not been exceeded.
• Inspect all office equipment (including paper cutters and shredders, printers and copiers, box knives, etc.) is in good working order, stored properly, and that no frayed electrical cords exist.
• Scrutinize office furniture for loose parts, sharp edges, broken or missing pieces, and drawers that will not close.
• Look at fire safety equipment to see if it is readily accessible, clearly marked, appears to be in working condition and if fire extinguishers have been inspected within the past year by a qualified person.
• Make sure that all chemicals brought into the workplace are clearly marked and properly stored and that Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are accessible.
• Look to make sure emergency evacuation plans are up to date and visible.

This is a basic list that will help you identify potential hazards in your workplace.  If you find something that you think may be a problem, make sure that you take steps to ensure that others are aware of the situation by marking equipment or furniture as unusable, clearing exits, etc.  Get professional help if you need it. Keep watching this blog for other office safety topics, safety meeting ideas, and other safety topics.

Deb Potter, PhD, is a certified management consultant (CMC), and specializes in safety management consulting for high-risk industries. As the author of Zero! Responsible Safety Management by Design, she works with leaders at all levels of organizations to develop zero-injury cultures.  She is on faculty in the School of Advanced Studies at the University of Phoenix. Deb may be contacted at

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