It’s apparent that safety hazards exist on worksites that have heavy machinery or where employees are required to engage in manual labor. An environment where most of the tasks are completed while sitting at desk may seem like it would have fewer safety risks. However, there can be a surprising number of, often ignored, office safety hazards. Here are a few office safety hazards and safety tips that you may not have considered.
Slips and falls
Slip and fall injuries account for a large percentage of office injuries according to the Bureau of Labor Statics. There are several ways to keep your office safety at a high level as well as eliminate office safety hazards. One of the more important office safety tips is to keep the general walkways where your employees will be clear. This applies to both the hallways and if you have a warehouse where possible, keep the aisles clear. If the corners in the hallways or aisles create blind spots, make sure you have a corner mirror where people can see more clearly. Another is to reduce the number of electrical cords in the office that aren’t tacked down correctly and create a potential tripping hazard.
Chairs, especially rolling office chairs, can be a hazard as well when used improperly. Many times employees will stand on a rolling chair to grab something off of a tall shelf or cabinet, which can cause the chair to roll out from underneath them. An easy fix is to make a step ladder available to all employees – though make sure to cover the proper procedures like not using the step ladder on uneven ground, or climbing higher than the instructions suggest is safe.
Another great idea is using proper matting in entryways and on slick tile. Wet tile and marble becomes a skating rink, which can be especially hazardous in entryways on rainy or snowy days. You can control this best if you have some non-skid matting to help clean off employees shoes when they enter the building and even in some of the larger rooms or hallways.
If you have a warehouse and there is an oil spill make sure you have proper equipment such as spill kits and oil absorbent socks. A good rule of thumb is always keep your workplace safety programs and training up to date to avoid unnecessary accidents and fines.
Fatigue is a huge cause of office safety issues. Ensure that your office and your staff is getting plenty of air flow and ventilation. If this is not happening and the oxygen isn’t flowing correctly this can cause employees to tire more quickly, leading to accidents. Make sure there is plenty of lighting and that it’s properly arranged for your employees’ work stations. This will reduce eye strain when they are focusing and looking at fine print and their computer screens.
Ergonomic injuries can happen from repetitively sitting with poor posture. Without proper feet, back and arm positioning, your body can quickly develop muscle and joint strain, causing pain, and even long-term damage. Teach your staff what good sitting posture looks like while they’re at their desk, working in the warehouse, or driving. This includes proper posture while sitting, lifting, typing, and even using a mouse at their computer. Also recommend that employees take a break every hour to stand up, move around and stretch their muscles.
Stacking and lifting
You want to make certain that stacking boxes and large heavy items in your office isn’t a common practice. Lifting heavy objects, or attempting to stack things too tall can lead to injuries not just to themselves, but to others. Storage areas should be arranged such that the heaviest items are placed towards the bottom of the shelves or stacks to help prevent toppling, or injuries from lifting heavy objects too high.
Just lifting one heavy object improperly can cause serious injury. Make sure all employees are taught proper lifting techniques to ensure they don’t end up with a sprain or back injury. If your employees are in a roll where they’re required to repeatedly lift things, make sure to provide back braces, and dollies or trucks. Also make sure everyone is properly trained to use lifting equipment, and how to wear braces and harnesses.
Give us your tips that have worked well for safety hazards in the workplace!