What are the legal office space requirements?
Health and safety laws are there to protect employees and members of the public against dangers resulting from workplace activities. A failure, or suspected failure, to comply with these laws can result in regulators commencing a health and safety investigation against your business, which may lead to a prosecution.
The Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 set out the requirements for the amount of space employees are entitled to whilst at work. The regulations state that every room where people work must have sufficient floor area, height and unoccupied space for the purpose of health, safety and welfare.
This means that employees must be provided with enough space to access workstations and move around freely in the room in which they work. The number of people who can work in a room will be dependent on the size of the room and the space taken up by furniture, fittings, equipment and the layout of the room. There should be sufficient height available to access workstations. Obstructions, like low beams in older buildings, should be clearly marked.
When the volume of the empty room is divided by the number of people working in it, it should be a minimum of 11 cubic metres. However, this may not be sufficient if a considerable part of the room is covered in furniture. The figure of 11 cubic metres will not apply to lecture rooms, and meeting rooms in office spaces.
It is vitally important that careful consideration is given to the layout of your office space to ensure that there is compliance with the obligations that are imposed by the regulations.