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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.
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