There is no legislated minimum space for office accommodation - but there is guidance material available. However, don't forget that under Section 21 of the OHS Act the employer must provide a for employees a 'working environment that is safe and without risks to health'.
Advice on how offices should be set up, and how much space there should be can be found in:
- The Compliance Code for Workplace amenities and work environment which has advice on workspace generally and also access, aisles and passageways (Sections 114 - 121).
Officewise - guidelines for OHS in offices which cover all sorts of things. Section 4 addresses Office layout, workstations and equipment. The following is taken from Officewise:
Provision of adequate space in an office to enable a person to operate effectively is essential.
There are three types of space that need to be considered:
- primary space – amenities, meeting rooms, lift lobbies and similar areas;
- secondary space – corridors and storage; and
- tertiary space – space required in a workstation to accommodate a desk, chair, drawers, filing cabinet and other necessary equipment.
The Building Block approach is one method used to determine the amount of space required by personnel. This is based upon a functional analysis of their needs, that is the tasks they perform in their jobs. This method recommends a minimum of 6 square metres per person for tertiary space and additional space for secondary and primary space requirements. It enables planners to provide enough space for all the requirements of technical people working in offices including clerical and administrative staff.
AS 1668.2 (2002) recommends an overall 10 square metres per person for offices, including primary, secondary and tertiary spaces. This standard relates to the ventilation of the building. The important thing to design for in all circumstances is the functional needs of the employee.
Both of these publications are available free from WorkSafe - call (03) 9641 1333 (The Compliance Code is only available through the WorkSafe website at the moment).
There are also a number of relevant Australian Standards - but these provide guidelines only, as they are not 'called up' in any regulations - for example:
- AS/NZS 4443: 1997 Office panel systems - Workstations
- AS/NZS 4442: 1997 Office desks
Additionally, see Australian Standard 1668.2-2002 - The use of ventilation and air conditioning in buildings .
Last amended February 2019