Historically many workers, including those working in offices were inadequately protected by health and safety regulations.

Offices, Shops and Railway premises Act 1963 is more concerned with the adequacy of facilities than with actual matters of health and safety.

The Health and Safety at work Act 1974 provides a much more integrated and comprehensive system of law to deal with the problems of health and safety in the working environment.

It includes all the regulations in Offices, Shops and Railway premises Act 1963 and places a responsibility to both employers and employees to take an active part in efforts to maintain health and safety in the place of work.  Employees must take responsible care for the health and safety of themselves and others and cooperate with employers on health and safety matters under the Health and Safety at work Act 1974.

A: It is the duty of the employer to provide a safe working environment as specified in the Offices, Shops and Railway premises Act 1963.  These aspects of making environment include:

  1. Cleanliness – all office promises must be kept in a clean state and floors and stairs must be cleaned at least once a week. A dirty office is both unpleasant to work in and potential health hazard.
  2. Lighting – should be sufficient and suitable. Daylight is the best form of lighting but artificial light is used if necessary.
  3. Temperature – where workers are not engaged in effort of severe physical motion, a minimum temperature of 15.50 C after the first working hours must be maintained.
  4. Ventilation – adequate ventilation to avoid stuffiness and staleness.
  5. Working space – each person should be provided with sufficient working space to prevent overcrowding.
  6. Sanitary conveniences – separate toilet facilities must be provided for both sexes sand the number based on the number of people employed.
  7. First aid – a first aid box must be provided for the use of employees in all offices premise and must be readily accessible.
  8. Washing facilities – a supply of clean running hot and cold water, soap and towel or other suitable means of cleaning or drying must be provided i.e. wash basins should be provided enough for all persons employed.
  9. Drinking water – a supply of fresh drinking water must also be made available.
  10. Accommodation for clothing – a place to hang and dry clothes must be provided.
  11. Provision of seats for sedentary workers
  12. Provision of eating facilities
  13. Fencing for machinery
  14. Fire precautions
  15. Noise – noise should be controlled by reducing it to avoid distractions for work requiring mental effort and concentration.
  16. Décor – a careful choice of colours for decorating offices produce accommodation which is pleasant to work in i.e. coloring on walls, floor coverings, chairs, sofa sets, curtains, etc e.g. carpets/mats


  1. Read and comply with manufacturer’s instructions
  2. Switch off machines and remove plugs when not in use
  3. Arrange regular care and maintenance of equipment
  4. Report faulty and damaged equipment without delay
  5. Check that dangerous parts of machinery are fitted with guard especially paper-cutting machines – guillotine
  6. Place equipment securely on desks and table with no part overhanging
  7. Use a trolley to move heavy machines and equipment, but do not attempt to lift very heavy weights
  8. Load and position filing cabinets safety to prevent it toppling over because of a heavy top drawer and drawers obstructing a passage way.
  9. Use a firmly set up step-ladder when reaching riles or other objects in a high position
  10. Avoid dangling jewellery scarves, belts, loose sleeves and ties, they are potentially dangerous.
  11. Expensive portable equipment should be fixed with anti-theft devices e.g. use of alarms when using machinery with exposed moving parts.
  1. Electrical appliances must be unplugged and switched off at the end of each day.
  2. Do not insert pins, nails or screws directly to the wall, ceiling or floor. You can break into a hidden circuit and cause an accident.
  3. Avoid damage to the socket and switches. Get them replaced at once when damaged.
  4. All plugs should be 3-pin type, earthed and fused. Replace blown fused and cracked plugs with those of the same rating.
  5. Switch off the current before changing a bulb. Do not fit bulbs to open leads.
  6. Any faulty electrical equipment must be repaired by an expert electrician.
  7. Switch of main switches after working hours to prevent electric short-circuits
  8. Replace worn leads for safety
  9. Avoid having a trailing wire/flex from a socket to a machine
  1. Mark fire exits clearly
  2. Inform all members of staff individually how to find the nearest fire exit in the event of fire or hearing of a fire alarm.
  3. Test the fire alarm regularly.
  4. Install adequate fire extinguishers.
  5. Inspect fire extinguishers regularly to ensure that they are in proper working order.
  6. Provide each member of staff individually with a carefully prepared procedure sheet explaining what to do in the event of fire.
  7. Ensure that the telephone operator is aware of the procedure in case of fire.
  8. Hold fire drills regularly, so that everyone would know what to do in case of fire, rather than getting into a panic when the fire threat becomes real.
  9. Install an automatic fire alarm system.
  10. Provide ash trays to avoid placing lighted cigarette stumps in waste paper baskets.
  11. Obey all non-smoking signs.
  12. Explosive or inflammable substances such as gas and petrol should not be stored in the office.
  13. When applicable the main electric switch in the building should be switched off when the offices are not occupied.
  14. Many correcting and cleaning fluids give off an inflammable vapor. Replace tops immediately after use and lock them in a well ventilated cupboard.
  15. Do not overload electric circuits.
  16. Installation of smoke detectors.
  17. Issue of fire precaution code to all staff incorporating such items as switching off all machines at night and unplugging them from the power points, ensuring that all heaters are switched off.
  18. Exercise constant vigilance to ensure that staff don not create any fire risks and take action if any relations are contravened.

ESCAPING FIRE – if you discover a fire

  1. Immediately operate the nearest fire alarm call point
  2. Attack the fire, if possible, with the appliances provided but without taking personal risk
  3. Use the nearest available exit
  4. Do not use the lift
  5. Wait for your turn to get through doorways, windows, etc
  6. Do not stop to collect your personal belongings
  7. Do not run or panic
  8. If you have visitors, escort them to the assembly point
  9. If last to leave your room, close all doors and windows
  10. Do not re-enter the building for any reason until the safety officers or their representatives gives you permission


  1. If a person’s clothing is on fire, wrap a blanket, rug or similar article closely round them and lay them on the ground to prevent flames reaching the head
  2. If electrical appliances are on fire switch off the current before dealing with the fire
  3. Shut the doors and if possible the windows of the room in which the fire is discovered
  4. Get to a window and shout for help
  5. Lie down if smoke gets into your room or lean out of a window if possible
  6. If jumping from a window, drop cushions out for landing; go out feet first, face inwards, lowering yourself as far as possible, and then drop

Be aware of the need for safety and all times know:

  1. How to contact the named first aider when an accident or illness occurs.
  2. Where the nearest first aid box and facilities are kept.
  3. How to send quickly for a doctor or an ambulance in major accidents or illness.
  4. How to help an injured person by:
  • Making the casualty as comfortable as possible (but do not attempt to move them until you know what is wrong)
  • Ensuring that the casualty can breathe freely by allowing plenty of fresh air into the room.
  • Disconnecting the electric power as quickly as possible in the case of an electric shock.
  • Keeping the casualty warm by wrapping them in blankets or coats for treatment of shock.
  • That first aid treatment apart from the above procedures should only be applied by qualified first aiders.
  • That an accident report form should be completed in accordance with the organization policy. It provides an accurate record of the accident and the immediate action taken.  Further medical treatment may be necessary which would result in a claim for compensation from the insured employee.
  • First aid boxes to be installed in the office to deal with accidents or when an illness occurs to cater for cuts and bruises.

Example of an accident report form



Potential health problems which may arise from the operation of VDU include:

  1. Eye strain caused by glare from the screen.

Possible remedies

  • Avoid placing the VDU where lights are reflected in the screen
  • Take regular short breaks throughout the day to prevent build up of fatigue
  • Do not look directly through windows and lights
  • Use lighting specially designed for VDU operation
  • Use brightness control on the machine to suit lighting conditions in the office
  • Keep the screen clean and finger mark free
  • Operation meaning glasses or contact lenses may have them corrected to the range of focus required
  • Have your eyes tested regularly and advices your optician of the nature of your work
  • Adjust the angel of the screen to minimize glare
  1. Stress caused by boredom and slow computer response time
  • Job variation and rotation will help to relieve this
  • Posture fatigue
  • Use adjustable chairs to produce the correct seat height and backrest positions
  • Sit up straight and will back on your chair
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and use a footrest if necessary
  • Support your thighs on the chair
  1. Screen flicker
  • Turning up the brilliance control
  • Adjusting the VDU control
  • Regular servicing to correct deterioration of the visual image
  1. Heat and humidity
  • Effective methods of ventilation are essential to control the temperature in the office
  • Use of a humidifier to avoid a dry atmosphere

These are common accidents and can rise in a number of different ways


  1. Make sure that lighting is sufficient and do not try to work anywhere it is not
  2. Wear ‘sensible’ shoes and not ones with heels which are difficult to walk on
  3. Pick up and wipe up anything that might cause a slip
  4. Use the handrails on stairs, take steps one at a time and report any damage to them
  5. Do not carry loads which you cannot see over
  6. Watch out for loose or damaged floor surfaces, recently washed or waxed floors
  7. Keep gang ways free of personal belongings over which someone might trip, boxes, opened drawers
  8. Do not have flex trailing from a socket to a piece of e.g. equipment
  9. Do not hit back in a chair. It can over balance or become damaged so that one day it breaks and hurt someone


  1. Supervise visitors so that they are never left alone at any time in your office or your employer’s office.
  2. Position your desk in such a way that visitors to your office will not be able to read confidential documents while they are in the typewriter or printer. If this information is displayed on your word processor screen, it may be necessary to scroll it away temporarily when visitors are present.
  3. Classify and control confidential, private or secret records by marking them accordingly.
  4. If asked for confidential information by an unauthorized person, use tact and diplomacy to evade the question and explain that you have no authority to supply such information and the enquiries should be available elsewhere.
  5. Avoid confidential telephone information being overheard by others. These may entail ringing back when you are along in your office or transferring the call to a more private office.
  6. Take care when supplying confidential information on the telephone that the caller is authorized to receive it
  7. If confidential documents have to be reproduced on a copier, it may be desirable for the secretary to ensure that the copies are not disclosed to others.
  8. Never leave confidential records lying around when you leave your office be sure to lock them always when not in use
  9. Place confidential records in a fold or so that they are not immediately visible to an onlooker
  10. Any confidential or secret documents no longer required should not be put in waste paper bin but destroyed in a shredder or incinerator and in a confidentiality procedure at all time.
  11. Follow and implement security and confidentiality procedures at all times.
  12. Take as much cover over confidential computerized data and recorded data on dictation machines as you would with documents.
  13. Confidential information should be restricted to a certain group of people so that it does not fall into wrong hands.

Special precautions must be taken to safeguard computerized data against loss or corruption and thus may entail:

  1. Keeping back-up duplicate copies of disks in a secure place
  2. Arranging for personal passwords, to be in use by the staff authorized to have access to the computer, the password being changed at regular intervals
  3. Using codes, known only to the users, for document files
  4. Using wire-protect tags on system desks to prevent data from being altered or added


  1. Check sums of money carefully when receiving and paying them
  2. Lock any cash held in the office in a cash box and keep it in a safe
  3. Never leave the office unattended with the cash box unlocked
  4. Ensure that every payment of cash is supported by a voucher or receipt
  5. Pay money into the bank as soon as possible after receipt to avoid the security risk of holding money on the premises
  6. If large sums of money have to be transported to and from bank, security agency staff will normally be employed. If the office staffs have to undertake this task, two people should go, using a specially designed cash carrying cash and if regular journey are made, very the route taken
  7. Spot checks should be made regularly on any transactions involving the transfer of money
  8. Do not leave wallets or handbags in your office


  1. Maintain an inventory i.e. a written record of all equipment held and includes serial number and any distinguishing marks
  2. Mark all items of equipment by engraving them or by writing on them with an ultraviolet marking pen so that they are easily identifiable
  3. If any item of equipment has to be borrowed, record the name of the person borrowing in the inventory
  4. Make a regular ‘stock-taking’ check of equipment and investigate any deficiencies



Security of premises can be controlled by restricting access to authorized personnel and adopting some of the following procedures.

  1. Issue all employees with photo-identity cards to be worn at all times.
  2. Issue visitors and contractors with passes to be worn at all times.
  3. Maintain a visitor’s book and also keep a record of all permanent and temporary passes issued.
  4. Arrange visitors to be met and returned to the reception office by their hosts.
  5. Employ security officers to control the admission of visitors and contracting staff.
  6. Use a close-circuit television for surveillance of buildings
  7. Install public address equipment throughout the building to enable emergency announcements to be made to all occupants
  8. Use coded electronic cards incorporating pre-programmed number combinations or computerized cards for staff to operate door locks allowing only those authorized to enter. Premises-card may carry an employee photo ID which is photographically or digitally reproduced
  9. Install burglar alarms for use at night
  10. Control over keys as they can be duplicated


  1. Not to open it or allow anyone else to deal with it
  2. To handle the package gently, placing it on a flat surface above the floor level and away from a corner of the office
  3. To leave the office as soon as possible, lock the door and hold on to the key for use by the police or security officer when they arrive
  4. To inform your security (safety officer) who will assure responsibility for the incident and, if necessary inform the police
  5. To keep the entrance to the office clear of people


If a telephone call is received stating that a bomb has been planted on the premises, as much information as possible should be obtained from the caller such as:

  • Location of the bomb
  • The time it is expected to go off
  • Any circumstances concerning the motive of the bomb
  • The identity of the caller

Immediately after the call

  • Inform the security or safety officer and the police (dial 999)
  • Assist the security or safety officer to take the necessary precautions until the police come to take charge of the situation.
  • Fire wardens, trained in bomb search techniques, should be assigned to search particular areas e.g. corridors, toilets, fire escape staircases. 

Reasons why accidents happen

  • Carelessness
  • Thoughtlessness
  • Untidiness
  • Negligence
  • Rushing
  • Failure to observe and follow instructions
  • Lack of supervision
  • Lack of training
  • Faulty or poorly manufactured equipment
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional/mental disturbance
  • Excessive noise
  • Distractions
  • The influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Adverse conditions of some kind e.g. darkness, cold, ice


HIV stands for Human Immune Deficiency Virus, the virus that causes AIDS

AIDS stands or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

HIV causes AIDS through progressive destructions of the body defense system.  After infection the body defense is progressively weakened making it liable to get common infections, which are also recurrent.  Due to its inability to defend itself against other infections the person’s health deteriorates until death.

HIV/AIDS is transmitted through the following ways:

  1. Sexual contact with a person infected with the virus
  2. From an injected mother to her unborn baby or soon after birth
  3. Transfusion with infected blood or blood products
  4. HIV contaminated cutting and piercing instruments e.g. needles, razors, knives, e.g. during circumcision
  5. Occupational exposure like for medical personnel
  6. Sharing toothbrushes if one has bleeding gums
  7. Deep kissing if one has open wounds in the mouth


AIDS progresses through the following stages which also characterize symptoms

  1. Asymptomatic stage

During this stage there are no symptoms.  The virus can only be detected through clinical test

  1. AIDS related complex (ARC) stage

The stage is complex because there are many problems evident at the same time.  There are as follows:

  1. Weight loss
  2. High fever
  3. Night sweat
  4. Lymphadanapathy (enlargement of the gland)


This stage is characterized by frequent opportunistic infections e.g.

  1. TB
  2. Fungal infection frequently manifested through the skin or mouth
  3. Pneumonia
  4. Cancer of the blood vessels especially in the mouth region
  1. DEATH

Duration of the process from infection to death is 4 – 8 years

Most of the children present the symptoms within the first years

This is because their immune system is immature


  1. Prevent sexual transmission. Despite high levels of awareness risky sexual behavior persists.  Behavioral change needs to be emphasized.  Enhancement of use of barrier methods e.g. condoms
  2. Prevent mother to child transmission. The main factor influencing the transmission of HIV from mother to child is the infections of the mother.  There exists drugs to prevent this and these should be available e.g. Nevaropine
  3. Prevent blood-borne infections. Screening all blood for transmission and protection from injuries that may result infection through the use of glove, and unsterilized equipment for invasive procedures e.g. teeth extraction, circumcision, tattooing etc. can do this


When prevention fails infection occurs and the intervention strategies become necessary.

These intervention strategies are meant to provide care and support for the infected and affected and can greatly assist and facilitate their integration into society and reduce the stigmatization, discrimination and isolation often experienced by HIV/AIDS patients.

There are two main interventions

  1. Medical treatment – AIDS is incurable but it can be treated and managed just like other incurable diseases such as diabetes. Due to its high mutation rate, HIV/AIDS is now normally treated with a combination of three anti-retroviral drugs that act in different ways.
  2. Counseling – this is the art of helping a person to think through a problem. It involves providing relevant information and device that can help infected to arrive at an informed decision on what is right for him or her, the right plan of action, the right decisions as to how to deal with the problem.


  1. At the social level the worst impact of HIV/AIDS is at the individual level. The person who is diagnoses HIV positive experiences stigma and discrimination
  2. At the family level, there is increased burden and stress for the people caring for people living with HIV/AIDS
  • A lot of labour hours and financial resources are diverted to buying drugs and especially the expensive anti-retroviral drugs
  • Further when the patient dies, the children are left orphans and the burden of looking after them is left to the aging grandparents
  • Where the extended family may not want to take care of such children, a 10 – 12 year old child becomes the head of the household
  1. At the community level there is increased burden on society to provide services for people living with HIV/AIDS and their orphaned children

Further there is increased number of street children and this has a pending danger of insecurity to the whole country.

  • Population size – the combined impact of AIDS death and fewer births because of smaller reproductive age population will result in fewer people. Therefore the growth rate of population will be less due to AIDS
  • Impact on the education system – A decreasing number of teachers due to sickness and death, low enrolment and high drop out rates due to high number of orphans
  • Impact on the general health of the population – HIV/AIDS has impacted negatively on the efforts of Kenyans to improve the general health of the population. We have rising case of tuberculosis, resurgent of various infections such as common colds, pneumonia, diarrhea etc and drug resistance especially in malaria
  • Impact on the economic sector – A reduction in the size of the experienced labour force, increased health care expenditure on hospital beds, health personnel and drugs and laboratory tests reduces savings and investments.


  • A substance abuse is a pattern of harmful use of drug substance for mood-altering purposes or psycho-active drugs
  • Drug abuse is the use of illicit drugs or the abuse of prescription over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are indicated or in manner or in quantities other than directed.


  1. Broken homes or families
  2. The neighborhood where people live and interact – classes, race, ethnicity region
  3. The mass media: movies, TV/Videos
  4. Associates: companions and participation in small intimate groups
  5. Mental disorders such as depression and anxiety
  6. Family history of addiction, genetic
  7. Abuse, neglect or other traumatic experience in childhood
  8. Curiosity
  9. Social rebelliousness
  10. Sensation seeking (feeling high)
  11. Low self esteem
  12. Poor stress management
  13. Psychological distress
  14. As a relief from fatigue or boredom
  15. To escape reality
  16. Pre-existing psychiatric or personality disorder or a medical disorder
  17. Reinforcing effects of drugs
  18. Withdrawal effects and craving
  19. Early initiation – first time users often are just experimenting or succumbing to peer pressure to try a substance while others are thrill-seekers who try any new option that comes along.


  1. Depressants such as alcohol, tranquillizers, barbiturates
  2. Stimulants which excite and sustain activity and diminish symptoms of fatigue such as cocaine, amphetamines
  3. Opioids – heroin is an example of an opiate drug, morphine
  4. Inhalants – e.g. glue, petrol/vapours
  5. Cannabis e.g. marijuana/bhang
  6. Hallucinogens e.g. LCD, LSP, PCP
  7. Narcotics e.g. tobacco
  8. Herbs and local plants e.g. Miraa


  1. Sudden change in behavior
  2. Mood swings, irritable and grumping and then suddenly happy and bright
  3. Withdrawal from family members or detachment from people
  4. Carelessness about personal grooming – is clumsy
  5. Loss of interest in hobbies, sports and other favourite activities
  6. Changed sleeping patterns; up at night and sleeps during the day/excessive sleeping at odd or unusual times
  7. Red or glossy eyes/watery eyes
  8. Running nose/dry mouth and nose
  9. Changes in appetite e.g. loss of appetite
  10. Weight gain or loss
  11. Slurred speech
  12. Inappropriate laughter followed by sleepiness
  13. Excessive talking followed by depression/loud talking
  14. Difficulty concentrating/confusion
  15. Poor judgment
  16. Hallucinations
  17. Irritability, anxiety, aggression hyperactive
  18. Dilated or contracted pupils
  19. Impaired vision, memory and thought
  20. Appearance of intoxication or drunk-like


  1. Increased expenses in buying of the illicit drugs – the depressants, stimulants, etc.
  2. Loss of more productive hours of work time due to absenteeism
  3. Increased risk of unemployment/fewer promotions
  4. Increased risk of injury or illness leading to higher debts, drug abuse treatment
  5. Exposure to a variety of health risks including pregnancy complications, brain damage or even deaths from overdosing
  6. User also may become susceptible to diseases such as HIV and hepatitis when sharing needles
  7. Cause marital stress leading to separation/divorce, place children of users at a greater risk of emotional problems, physical problems and learning difficulties
  8. Enlargement in crimes such as robbery, prostitution in order to support expensive drug habits
  9. It costs employers more money in sick leave and pay for work that is not actually being performed
  10. Legal bills are incurred due to arrest warrants and other legal problems
  11. Loss of earned income due to dropping of earned income due to dropping emotional distress e.g. yelling, talking down insulting and manipulating
  12. Being violent e.g. slapping, hitting or smashing
  13. It costs insurance companies more due to increased accidents that occur more frequently than within the general population
  14. Long term loss of earning capacity due to illness, disability and medical costs
  15. Psychological challenges e.g. denial, anger, shame, isolation


Intervention is a process in which an addicts family requests help from a professional in order to get this person in to drug treatment

  1. Medication/drug treatment – it is the prescribing of medication for the substances abused. Medication begins with detoxification, followed by treatment and relapse prevention (i.e. a return to addictive behavior) to enable the patient achieves lasting abstinence.
  2. Outpatient treatment – patients visit a clinic at regular intervals so that their progress can be assessed. The clinical staff develops an individualized treatment plan with each client.  This outpatient program is ideal for patients who are in the early stages of their addiction.
  3. Residential treatment/rehabilitation – It is an inpatient residential rehab with highly qualified and experienced addiction recovery experts who help addicts to re establish healthy behavior and provide coping strategies whenever a situation of risk happens.
  4. Individual counseling – this is where an individual gets to know their counselor and opens up and shares information about their drug addiction. Some of the topics covered are: the root causes of the drug addiction, the “triggers” for continued drug use and solutions and better decision making processes of moving forward.
  5. Group counseling – the individual meets not only with a drug addiction counselor but also a group of their fellow recovering addicts as well. During these sessions, everyone into the meeting is given a chance to talk openly and honestly about their drug history and concerns for the future.
  6. After care programs – these programs provide answers regarding how to respond in particular satiations and the best way to improve decision making regarding elements of potential relapse.
  • They help an addict to face old neighborhoods, familiar temptations and the lost trust of friends and loved ones
  • They offer an individual a chance to prepare for advancement in education and career.



  1. State three ways in which employees living with HIV/AIDS can manage their health
  2. Highlight six actions that staff should take if a fire breaks out in the office (9 marks) or Outline the evacuation procedure that should be followed when fire is discovered in the office premises.
  3. Highlight five symptoms that may be displayed by an employee who is a drug user (10 marks)
  4. Explain five security measures that should be taken to protect secret and confidential information (10 marks)
  5. Outline five causes of drug and substance abuse among workers in an organization (10 marks)
  6. List three details that should be included in a fire safety notice (3 marks)
  7. State the precautions that should be taken to enhance safety against fire in an office (7 marks)
  8. In some organizations, secretaries are in charge of health and safety in the office. Outline five hazards that they should look out for in relation to office equipment and explain how each hazard can be dealt with (10 marks)
  9. Your boss, the Health and Safety Manager, has asked you to carry out a comprehensive health and safety survey of the typing pool and report back to him. Identify eight health and accident hazards you are likely to encounter during your survey.  (8 marks)
  10. Identify three safeguards that may be established to limit computer access by authorized personnel in order to tighten up on system security (6 marks)
  11. As a secretary, you are responsible for the health and safety of the workers in your department. Suggest six measures that the organization may take to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids in the work place.  (12 marks)
  12. Outline three ways in which an organization can improve on the security of cash and valuables in the office (3 marks)
  13. Outline the provisions employers must make to ensure the health and safety of their workers in relation to the premises (8 marks)
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