The Danger Zone - The Office
Compared to an industrial work environment, an office can seem like a safe place to work. However, many serious accidents and injuries occur on a regular basis in offices everywhere. Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries. They can occur anywhere whether you are in the production area or in the office.
Office workers are injured by falls, fires and electric shock. They receive cuts and bruises from office tools and furniture. They develop long-term injuries from repetitive work such as keyboarding.
As you go through your day, use these safe work practices:
- Watch for obstructions which can cause tripping accidents. Cords and cables should not be placed across traffic areas. Even cords going to a power bar located next to a work station can trip a person getting up from the desk.
- Materials should be stored in designated storage areas, not in boxes on the floor.
- Briefcases, handbags and other personal items should be stored where no one will fall over them.
- Keep drawers of desks and cabinets closed.
- Clean up any spills, such as coffee or water, right way. If a spill cannot be taken care of immediately, arrange a barricade and a sign to warn people. Floors which are wet from cleaning should also be blocked off and marked by warning signs.
- Load file cabinets from the bottom up. Serious accidents have occurred when top-heavy filing cabinets have fallen over.
- Use safe lifting techniques. It is just as easy to receive a back injury in the office as it is in the warehouse. To pick up a heavy item, squat down beside it. Use the strength in your legs, not your back, to raise it up. Bend your knees, not your back.
- Store sharp implements such as scissors, paper knives, and letter openers separately from other items to prevent cuts and puncture wounds.
- Be alert to electrical hazards, which can cause fires and electrocution. Check for any frayed or damaged cords or plugs. Electrical repairs should be made only by qualified personnel.
- Don't overload electrical circuits. Extension cords are meant to be used only temporarily, so make sure the area is wired adequately for all of the electronic equipment such as computers, copiers and printers. Breakers which trip frequently are a sign of overloaded circuits.
- Don't use makeshift scaffolds such as a chair balanced on a desk when you are reaching for something overhead. Take the time to get a stepladder or stepstool.
- Repetitive strain injuries are increasingly common in offices. When doing work such as computer keyboarding, keep your hands and wrists straight and relaxed. Frequently switch to other tasks to give your hands a rest.