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This guide outlines minimum standards for the Occupational Safety and Health of workers in the office. The purpose of this guide is to provide practical advice on the principal office hazards that should be controlled in order to prevent accidents and work related disease. It is important to create a comfortable working environment so those workers feel less exhausted and stressed in places where they have to spend long hours. Creation of a comfortable working environment is also believed, will enable workers to put their abilities to use more effectively and revitalize workplaces. (Sources are from the Department of Occupational Safety and Health : Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health in the Office.)

Office Environment and Health
The office environment is a combination of lighting, temperature, humidity, air quality and decoration. The office can be a healthy and comfortable place to work in if the correct combination of these element is maintained.

Temperature : A comfortable temperature must be maintained (Between 20 - 26 degree Celsius). Office temperature can be localized. A desk situated in direct sunlight will be much warmer than the average temperature in the office and a desk situated directly under an air-conditioning vent can be cooler than average. So, additional windows, skylights or glass partitions in offices should not allow excessive temperatures during hot weather.


Humidity : Low humidity can cause dryness of the eyes, nose and throat and may also increase the frequency of static electricity shocks.

High humidity, above 80% can be associated with fatigue and report of "stuffiness"


Ventilation : Office should be ventilated either naturally or artificially. Where mechanical ventilation or air-conditioning is provided make sure the system is regularly checked, kept clean and well maintained to prevent growth of legionella bacteria or other organisms.


Contaminated Air : Contaminants in the office can include bacteria, viruses, mould spores and dust, solvent vapors, or chemicals generated or used in the building.

Appropriate control measures for the reduction of air contamination include:

  • Effective air filtration
  • Ensuring that adequate amounts of fresh air enter the building,
  • Maintenance of air-conditioning units including regular cleaning,
  • Preventing the obstruction of vent,
  • Locating equipment using solvent in non-airconditioned area with substantial air movement and/or installing local exhaust ventilation.


Smoking : Environmental tobacco smoke is an indoor contaminant and there is growing recognition that non-smokers may suffer adverse health effects through inhaling tobacco smoke.

Procedures such as consultation, education programs and the allocation of designated smoking areas are recommended for the development of an effective no-smoking policy.


Ozone And Photocopiers : Modern photocopiers and laser printers are fitted with an ozone filter and do not present any hazard to health, provided they are properly maintained.

It is recommended that photocopiers are not placed on or in close proximity to the personal workstations of office workers because of possible discomfort from the heat, light and noise generated during the photocopying process.


Sick Building Syndrome : The symptoms that characterize "sick building syndrome" are sore eye, running nose, headaches, mucous membrane irritation, dry skin, dizziness and nausea.

It is believed that the syndrome is caused by a combination of poorly adjusted ventilation, air-conditioning, temperature, humidity, lighting and psychological factors such as stress, management style and tedious work schedules.

Using the solution to each individual aspect of the office environment offered in this guide may help in alleviating the symptoms that characterize sick building syndrome.


Lighting : Adequate lighting must be provided. When artificial lighting is used it should be sufficient so as to avoid visual fatigue and prevent glare or refraction into the workers eyes.

Suitable light level based on Malaysia  Standard for interior lighting

  • General background                                      200 Lux
  • Routine Office Work                                      400 Lux
  • Work with poor contrast (Proof Reading)         600 Lux

Light should fall from side rather than from the front to avoid refrection on the work surfaces.

Glare causes visual discomfort and is usually caused by light sources which are too bright or inadequately shielded.

It is advisable to ensure that lights are cleaned at regular intervals, at least every 6-12 months.

Colour : Colours determine the level of reflectance as follows:

  • White reflects          75% or more of light
  • Light colours           50% - 75% (subdued cool colours)
  • Medium colours      20% - 50% (bright warm colours)
  • Dark colours           20% or less

White or off-white is recommended for ceiling as they should reflect greater than 80% of light. Floors should be reflect less than 20% of light and therefore should be dark coloured.


Office Floor Space : Workstation should be comfortable with safe and suitable chairs and sufficient space.

A good rule of thumb for personal space is to allocate 6.25 square meters per individual workstation, including furniture and fitting, but excluding passageways and amenities.


Welfare Facilities : Welfare facilities like eating facilities, sanitary facilities, washbasins etc. should be available. Ensure adequate facilities for building water and taking meals are provided for office employees or ensure they have reasonable access to these facilities.


Cleanliness : The standard of cleanliness required will depend on the use to which the office is put. Floors and indoor traffic routes should be cleaned at least once per week. Any waste material that accumulates should be removed on a daily basis. Ensure contract office cleaners are given the same health and safety protection as regular office workers.

For details, please visit  (Department of Occupational Safety and Health : Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health in the Office.)

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