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 tasks are completed while sitting at a desk may seem to have fewer safety risks, but there can be a surprising number of office safety hazards. Here are a few office hazards and safety tips that you may not have considered.
Slips and falls.
The latest government statistics state that time away from work due to slipping and falling accidents accounted for 27 % of workplace injuries. This translates into lost work days and reduced profits.It’s important to find ways to undercut these hazards to help protect your staff and stem production loss.
Begin an office safety campaign by keeping office pathways clear. Remove clutter such as furniture, office equipment, electrical chords, boxes and supplies. Prevent falls by wiping up wet spots and spills, smoothing out bunched up carpeting, turning down edges of rugs and closing file drawers.
Each month send an office email with safety tips to help reduce office related injuries. First tip? Don’t walk while reading emails! Remind the staff to hold on to handrails when using the stairs and not to lean back on wheeled office chairs, which can roll and flip causing head injuries and back or neck problems. When the seasons change, bringing rain or snow, list tips for walking carefully on wet surfaces and how to maintain their balance to keep from falling. Remind them to slow down, take shorter strides and position their feet slightly outward. Prompt them to report any accident-prone situations they notice inside or outside the office.
Fatigue can set in after working long hours in front of a computer screen. Maybe your employees begin the day with a straight back, shoulders down, hips seated squarely in the chair and their faces positioned about 2 feet from the computer screen. But, after a while fatigue can set in and their shoulders might start hovering close to their ears and their backs will curve as they rest their chin in their hand with their elbow propped on the desk. Over time, this awkward posture can lead to stiff, strained or painful muscles in their neck, shoulders and back and can contribute to severe headaches
In an office safety email remind the employees to take a break from the screen and every hour stand and do a few stretches to get the blood flowing. Suggest they do some shoulder rolls and stretch their neck. You can even recommend they move their bodies and take a short walk.
Don’t forget their eyes! Staring at a computer screen can irritate and dry eyes. Every hour they should take a moment to stare at an object in the distance and blink several times. Blinking is what helps release the lubricant that keeps eyes moist, but people don’t blink often while staring at a screen. Suggest they keep eye drops, made for dry-eye therapy, near their computers, as a reminder to squirt a little moisture in their peepers.
Ergonomic-related injuries are generally the result of employees sitting in office furniture that isn’t made to accommodate their individual height, weight or leg length. Consequently they begin to feel fatigue and muscle stress after hours of sitting awkwardly while completing repetitive tasks. Over a period of time this type of fatigue and stress will lead to medical appointments and missed work.
Ergonomically-designed office furniture adjusts to accommodate the individual. Chairs have lumbar support to maintain strong posture and seats, arm rests and chair backs that can be adjusted to give support and comfort.
Desks can be adapted for sitting or standing, depending on the employee’s mood or fatigue level throughout the day. Having the ability to adjust the desks’ height also allows for better placement of computer screens and keyboards, preventing eye strain, wrist pain and muscle stress in the neck and shoulders.
Stacking and lifting
Office storage rooms filled with supplies sometimes become repositories for unused supplies and seldom or never used equipment. Large boxes are stored out of the way on high shelves or stacked on top of other boxes on the floor, along with bulky equipment too heavy to move. This is a scenario rife with tripping, falling, stacking and lifting accidents.
Employees who are preoccupied, in a hurry or with compromised eye sight can be more susceptible to tripping or falling over stacked boxes stored on the floor. Staff lifting heavy or bulky boxes can hurt or strain muscles in their back, legs or arms or when they’re lifting objects from high shelves they can accidentally drop it on someone walking or standing close by.
These additional tips can help reduce office hazards and lost work days:
- keep a small step ladder in the storage area so employees don’t struggle trying to reach objects stored on high shelves.
- Invest in a small appliance dollie or cart to easily move small or bulky loads
- Store heavy objects on shelves close to the floor
- Don’t block pathways
- In your monthly safety emails remind employees how to correctly lift bulky or heavy objects and post these instruction in the supply room, along with other safety info
Accidents happen, but taking these preventive steps can minimize the chance of them happening at your business.