Sent by Jay Akers, from Safety Services, whose team works diligently writing and preparting safety programs, training, posters, and other safety information.
The average office setting may not seem like a place where accidents ever happen, but the truth is there are few places in which you’ll find as wide a range of ways to sustain an injury. Don’t let a safety hazard catch you off guard by assuming that it won’t happen to you. We’ve put together some ways you can stay safe at work.
Begin by arriving to work safely. It’s not unusual for office hours to begin at very early hours, and the roadways can be dangerous and dense with traffic. Among the thousands of sleepy drivers who just got out of bed, you’ll want to be as alert as possible. Maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep. If you have the option to take public transportation, you can save yourself the trouble altogether.
Some of the most common workplace injuries are the result of slips, trips, and falls. Evaluate the entire work area for possible trips like computer cords, slips like work surfaces that can be slick when wet and falls, especially in the more dimly lit places.
Copy and fax machines, computers, overhead projectors – there are a lot of sources for loose electrical cords in your office. Keep them organized and out of the way. In a situation where there are many cords bundled in the same location, tie them together with a band or twist tie. Try not to position electrical equipment across a walkway from the outlet. If it’s unavoidable, run the cords under a rug. Check your hands to ensure they’re thoroughly dry before handling electrical cords and equipment.
Always use an approved ladder if you need to reach an upper shelving unit. Don’t climb on the shelving or create makeshift ladders (such as stacked boxes or an office chair). Stock the shelves with larger, heavier items on the bottom to address the risk of items falling on you. If you can anchor the shelving to the wall behind it, do so.
Watch out for puddles. Large or small, they’re just a slip and a fall waiting to happen. Keep an eye on the break room and the communal water cooler where spilled coffee or water is more likely. Immediately clean up spills, and make sure to put out a sign to let your coworkers know that the floor is wet, if the spill requires a mop.
Keep your office supplies contained and organized. Don’t leave papers lying around on the floor, and maintain smaller items such as pins, paper clips, and rubber bands in a container on your desk. Move items away from the desk’s edge so that you don’t accidentally knock them off.
Office furniture poses threats of its own. Make sure garbage cans are out of the walkways. Filing cabinet drawers left open are a good way to get a nasty gash. Before you sit down, check that your chair (especially if it has rollers) is in position so you don’t take a nasty spill on your rear. When you’re carrying a load down a walkway, ensure that the way ahead is clear and that you can see over the load.
Make sure everyone knows company procedures in the event of a fire, from attacking the fire to evacuation. Locate fire extinguishers in your building and take the time to learn how to use them. Keep in mind that not all fire extinguishers are designed to eliminate the same kind of fire – read labels, get training, and make it a habit to regularly check that the fire extinguishers inspections are up to date. If there isn’t one already, consider assembling a fire safety team in your office that can monitor the environment for potential fire hazards as well as take point in the organization of emergency evacuations.
Your surrounding environment isn’t the only source of safety hazards in an office. Because an office job often involves long periods of sitting, standing, lifting, and repetitive movements, your body is just a hazard waiting to turn against you.
Know your personal physical capacity before you lift or move a load. Get a buddy if it’s beyond that rather than putting your back at risk. Make sure you’re using proper lifting techniques.
Implement appropriate equipment and controls that address individual work requirements. Use anti-fatigue mats for shifts involving a lot of standing, ergonomically designed chairs and computer equipment for working at your desk, and safety gearsuch as gloves or back braces if your day involves a lot of lifting. Remember to mix it up throughout the day – get up, sit down, stretch, and shake your hands out. Try to rotate through different sorts of asks throughout the day so that musculoskeletal injuries don’t have the chance to build.
Stay safe at work by knowing what to watch for and how to disarm hazards before they surface. Your body and your wallet, free from overwhelming medical bills, will thank you.