Industry Overview: Safety in the Workplace
By Evan Papamichael
In this assignment I will be investigating safety at The Information Desk/Publications Unit, in the Campus Centre, at Monash University, Clayton.
Beverley Higgins, Bernadine Rodrigues, Mairghread Clarke – All Client Services Administrators.
The functions performed in this workplace are the typing and formatting of theses. This could include honours or masters theses, or PhD dissertations. The work is typed on the computer and then bound. Students can select from different coloured binding. Other functions performed are the transmitting of information. This involves the listening to earphones and typing general student information and issues or questions on the word processor. As well as binding as mentioned above, the other services performed are key cutting and photo copying. When Evan Papamichael had some of his work photo-copied here earlier in the year, his bounded material was unbound and with one button, all of the pages were photo-copied by the machine like a printing press, i.e. it was not necessary to manually place page by page one after the other in the machine to photo-copy.
The workplace is well lit with artificial means and there is no glare or flickering lights. Although there are no windows, the area is well ventilated, with fresh air from air conditioning to prevent Legionnaires disease and there is definitely no passive smoking.
The office environment is attractive with pastel blue/grey paint and pleasant to the eye.
One negative point about the workplace is that at the front reception where the administrative officers serve the students or members of the University there is far too much noise. This is because front reception is close to and accessible to the many shops, restaurants and cafes as well as bookshops, banks and professional services such as doctors, optometrists and pharmacists. As much of student life is associated in this area and students often pass through the Information Desk for assistance or advice, there is constantly movement and talking here. All electrical appliances and cables are safely positioned.
Desks and Equipment
In terms of desks and equipment, Bernadine (one of the workers in administration) has a screen for her computer close to her eyes because she cannot see so clearly. Others such as Beverley in the same job has her computer at a normal distance away from her eyes i.e. a bit further away. The keyboard and mouse are perfectly safe to use. Mobile phones are strictly not used in the office by staff.
In terms of employee relations, Beverley tried to put an object in Bernadine’s desk drawer and Bernadine’s leg and knee were in the way. In case there was a minor injury caution and care had to be taken. Bernadine has a heater at her feet which was an issue with the cold wintery days which just surpassed us. Also, Bernadine’s feet are too short when sitting at her desk therefore Bernadine always uses a foot rest when typing away at her computer. This relieves stress, pain and of course discomfort, and generally makes the workplace environment more healthy and enjoyable.
In terms of stress, this only occurs with mature age students and elderly visitors because they expect so much from the staff at the Information Desk. It should be noted that elderly visitors can sometimes be grouchy which can be irritating.
The staff only have lunch breaks. There are no tea breaks, and staff only really have a short break when they go to the bank for change or for jobs or duties at the drycleaners. This is all due to the fact that the front desk at reception must always be covered and someone always has to be present to answer queries and questions on the phone.
All three of the workers in question do the same job. Those being Beverley, Bernadine and Mairghread.
One difference between the differing duties of the employees is that Beverley does more transcribing of interviews for research. Whereas Bernadine does more formatting of Masters and PhD theses. It is worth pointing out that formatting is a set guideline for Monash University, when a thesis or dissertation is typed up. Bernadine puts the work/thesis into a set “Monash University” format which sets tables and diagrams in a particular manner. It takes time to generate a Table of Contents and a List of Figures, or a List of Tables.
A Fax machine was needed and the boss of the office, Laura, updated and installed a new Fax as well as a new Photocopying machine as both were required.
The above two machines were updated and the three employees mentioned in this report were happy with their workplace environment. New computers and printers were also recently installed in the office.
The three staff, discussed above, have their own chairs which they always take with them wherever they go. Each chair is adjusted to support back and body comfort.
The staff have a personal toilet which the three of them share. This toilet is locked and only accessed by key. The staff also have a special cleaner to clean out their personal telephones and headphones in the office.
In terms of procedures if an employee has hurt their back or body they are to immediately contact Tina Taitt who is the Occupational Health and Safety Officer for their department at Monash University, and is located in Building Services. Bernadine once had an injured shoulder because the binding machine was placed too high for her. The machine was lowered to relieve the stretching and tip-toeing as Bernadine was too short to reach up for the binding machine. Bernadine told Worksafe and she went to Physiotherapy. Now the binding machine is too low for Beverley who is a tall woman but this is not a serious issue which will cause damage or injury. Staff are able to get information from Building 3A in Administration Building at Monash University about Workplace Safety. Further information can be gathered from Tina Taitt or, Laura, the office boss who can access the information off the web and it is available in English and different languages which is very important and convenient in our multicultural contemporary Australian society.
Report based on interview with Beverley, Bernadine and Mairghread, Client Service Administrators at the Information Desk/Publications Unit, Monash University, Clayton, on Friday 26th August 2005 at 10am.