The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act emphasises that all line managers are responsible for the safety of staff within the workplace. Those failing in their duties may be prosecuted under the act. Recent examples of successful court actions include the ‘Herald of Free Enterprise’ and ‘Piper Alpha’. Emphasis in safety guidelines is generally placed on avoiding slips, trips and falls, on lifting and handling, on fire prevention, on using approved equipment, and on the immediate reporting of faults. As far as information technology is concerned, however, there remains an insufficiency of expertise when it comes to the purchase of equipment. The early optimism over the paperless office which entranced records managers, has turned to a nightmare of tangled electronic communicators and replicators, fax machines, photocopiers and workstations. These present unforseen hazards to the workforce. Electromagnetic radiation is emitted by many electronic products. The majority of photocopiers give out ozone that is certainly not good to breathe. Backache is a continuing problem. There has been a dramatic increase in upper limb disorders, particularly RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) among keyboard operators, whilst the growing list of office induced ailments also includes hormonal imbalances caused by dull fluorescent lighting and nausea — the symptoms of sick building syndrome.
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