The Do's and Dont's of Office Safety

Monday, January 14, 2013

Most people think of offices as safe working environments compared to factories, but a surprising number of office workers get injured every year. The most common causes of office injuries are workers falling or bumping into things, things falling on workers and strains from poorly constructed work stations.

Here are some suggestions for how to avoid the most common office accidents and injuries:

  • Offices should have good lighting so that workers can see where they step, and lower lighting near the computers so that glare on computer screens is prevented. Screens around computer stations might help to keep the bright lighting off the screens.

  • There should be a sufficient number of shelves so that workers do not have to store and pick things up off the floor. This can prevent both back injuries and falls caused by tripping.

  • Offices should have as few as possible loose objects to trip over or slip on. For example, electric cables, rugs with edges that curl up, stacks of paper on the floor, and so forth.

  • To prevent workers bumping into things, draws should not be left open and the office should not be arranged with too little walking space between the desks.

  • To prevent things falling on workers, shelves should never be overloaded so they might break or so things might slide off.

  • Work stations should be well designed to prevent back and neck injuries and strains. Chairs should have adequate lower-back support and should allow the workers’ feet to touch the floor. Desks should be an appropriate height so computer workers’ hands are in a straight line from their elbows instead of curving up or downward. To prevent neck strain from looking down, document holders should be provided for workers who often type of printed material.

  • Air conditioners should be carefully set and monitored so the office is not too cold or hot. Their filters should be changed regularly to prevent pollutants from sticking and affecting the air quality in the office and they should allow enough fresh air from outside instead of merely re-cycling air polluted by office machinery.

  • Fire extinguishers and fire door exits must be unobstructed and a program should be in place so that workers know what to do in case of a fire.

  • Electrical panels should be easily accessible, but access should be limited to qualified or designated people. Overloading of electrical outlets should be avoided and flammable material like paper should not be stored too close to heat generators like heaters.

  • Office equipment should be properly maintained. Anything from kettles to fax machines are potential fire hazards.

  • The company should train workers to safely use new equipment, and should have a formal system to report defective equipment, wet floors, and so forth.

There is no reason why offices should be hazardous working environments, and with a bit of organisation and effort, many office accidents and injuries can be prevented.