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Office Workers Have Safety Hazards Too

Office Workers Have Safety Hazards Too

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager, Arcata, CA
Produced by:
Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

Around 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2015.” Bureau of Labor Statistics

An office may seem like a super safe and hazard-free work environment, but there are still risks you should be aware of in the office. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that tens of thousands of injuries or work-related health problems occur in the office each year.
Education is a great step toward eliminating office work hazards. Below are some common office safety hazards that you should be aware of.

3 Common Office Safety Hazards:

  1. Fall Injuries. If you think about it, the office has potential for many falls from hazards such as: unattended spills, wet floors, exposed cords, unstable work surfaces, uneven floors, loose rugs, cluttered areas, or areas affected by weather.
    To prevent tripping, be sure not to allow any clutter (like boxes) to enter any walking paths of the office. Stay proactive and clean all spills immediately and post proper hazard signs on wet surfaces that are being cleaned to prevent slips. Also, be sure all tripping hazards like phone or electrical cables are properly installed.
  2. Cumulative Trauma Injuries. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) some common injuries are caused by repetitive movements (including mouse or keyboard use), sitting in awkward or uncomfortable positions, or straining the neck to look at a screen that is too high or too low. OSHA suggests “Adapting tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker to help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).” Be sure your office consults with ergonomics experts to provide a safe work environment and check out our Ergonomics Blog for some quick tips.
  3. Eye Strain. Too much screen time can cause many eye-related symptoms such as discomfort, eyestrain, blurred vision, dry eyes, headache, fatigue, difficulty focusing, and shoulder and neck pain. It is important to properly rest your eyes and take breaks.
    As cell phones become more common in the work place, workers may find themselves looking at small screens throughout the day, try some of our
    tips to protect your eyes when working with a cell phone or consider doing Eye Exercises.

Be sure your HR Department has an Office Safety plan.
Be sure your Human Resources department has developed an Office Safety Plan. OSHA Requires that an office protect workers against known hazards. For example, the following CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) codes apply to a variety of office environments: Housekeeping (29 CFR 1910.22), Exit routes, Emergency Action Plans, and Fire Prevention Plans (29 CFR 1910.33 to 1910.39), Fire Protection (29 CFR Subpart L), Electrical Safety (29 CFR Subpart S), Hazard communication for chemical hazards (29 CFR 1910.1200), Sanitation (29 CFR 1910.141).

Every office safety plan should be reviewed annually and updated whenever changes in procedures or the office environment could create new hazards or affect existing ones.

In conclusion, stay educated.
Being educated in common office safety hazards will help prevent work related injuries. To learn more about work safety issues, visit us at or Contact Us for more information.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

Should you try Standing While Working? Some Ergonomics Tips to Consider.

How to Adjust the Work Area for Standing Desks

By Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager

Standing while working has become increasingly popular. For employers who provide height adjustable surfaces, it is important to know the correct way for employees to use them. Although standing while working can be healthy, using height adjustable surfaces incorrectly causes ergonomics risk factors which can lead to pain and injury.

Upon delivery, set the sitting and standing heights of the surface and monitor at the right heights for the employee. If a keyboard tray is being used, it is important for it to be the correct height as well. If the surface has automatic settings, set them for the employee when the surface is delivered. If the surface does not have automatic settings, the employee can be provided with a measuring tape and notes of the measurements. Alternatively, the wall can be marked with a pin or some type of marking to indicate what heights the surface should be while standing and sitting.

When doing ergonomic assessments, Solutions Northwest educates employees on the following procedures when a sit-stand surface is used:

Tips for Working While Standing

Your Feet and Legs:

  • Whenever possible, move while you stand. Standing is not moving.
  • Point your toes forward.
  • Keep your weight evenly on both legs.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent, not locked.
  • Elevate one foot on a footrest or ream of paper to avoid swaying your back.
  • Wear shoes with good arch support and cushioning.
  • Use an anti-fatigue mat. A 2’ x 3’ mat is a good size. Move it out of the way when you are using your chair. The mat should have a beveled edge which is not a tripping hazard.
  • Use the anti-fatigue mat as your movement spring board.

Your Hands and Arms

  • Keep your elbows by your sides, not resting on the surface.
  • Recognize the symptoms of fatigue. If you are leaning on the surface, you are tired. Sit down before you are fatigued. Stand before your muscles tighten up from sitting.

Back and Shoulders

  • Avoid hunching forward. Keep your head over your shoulders.

Remember To:

  • Develop a good schedule for switching between standing and sitting.
  • Do not let pain be the reminder to change your position from sitting to standing or vice versa. Change your position before pain sets in. Make note of when your body starts hurting while standing. Switch to sitting 10 minutes before the time your body started hurting while standing.
  • Walk for at least five minutes every hour.

Having the newest equipment does not ensure that employees will be healthy in the workplace. Although having ergonomically correct equipment cuts back on pain and injuries, it is not the only solution. Both equipment and behaviors need to improve to reduce health risks. For more Ergonomics Tips, visit Solutions Northwest or contact one of our experts today.

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