When thinking of workplace safety, most of us envision a warehouse, factory or construction site. Few think of a business office as a dangerous place, but they can be far from safe. Many office workers are injured every year on the job, though not as dramatically as their blue collar counterparts. And office injuries can be equally costly to their employers. So, workplace safety programs are just as vital in office settings as in industrial sites. Below are a few of the more common office injuries.
Slipping and falling
The National Safety Council reports that an accidental fall is the top injury to office workers. It further notes that people are two-and-a-half times more likely to be seriously injured by a fall in the office than by any other workplace mishap. Nearly all are preventable.
Incorrect ways of reaching for high objects are the No. 1 cause of office falls. Often a worker uses anything handy — like wheeled office chairs, desks, tables, and other types of furniture — to climb and grab things that are out of reach. Safely reaching objects on high shelves or in tall cabinets involves appropriate-height stepladders (and never climbing higher than what’s indicated on the ladder).
Unsafe flooring usually involves exposed wiring that runs through or near traffic areas and causes workers’ feet to become entangled. Upturned carpet edges invite tripping. Hard flooring can be slick when wet or dusty. The use of mats adjacent to exterior doors keeps everyone from tracking in rain and snow that create slippery floors.
Clutter found next to desks, in hallways, and near storage areas can also cause trips and falls.
Stacking and lifting
Most offices have stacks of file boxes and other materials. They can be a considerable hazard in the office. For example, an employee may bump into a stack, causing it to topple over on someone. Stacking materials also contributes to lifting those boxes incorrectly and causing a back injury.
Today’s office workers are more sedentary than those in the past; many of their jobs involve eight hours in front of a computer screen wiith little movement beyond manipulating a mouse or stroking a keyboard. This has created an entirely new classification of workplace danger — repetitive motion injuries. Many of these, such as carpel tunnel syndrome, are “cumulative,” meaning that they can become debilitating over time. Office managers and workers need to incorporate more ergonomic tools and workplace habits on a daily basis to offset these workplace hazards.
Most offices contain plenty of fire hazards. In addition to the potential to injure and kill, office fires destroy valuable documents and equipment. Preventing fires and eradicating such hazards should be a high priority. Many office materials are highly combustible; some even emit toxic fumes when burning. Electrical defects are a prominent fire hazard, so the integrity of extension cords and wiring should always be observed. There should be regular inspections to identify fire hazards and mitigate them. And all office workers should be trained how to use a fire extinguisher and know the location of exits and procedures for evacuating the building.
If you or a loved one has been injured at the office and need assistance, the attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC can help if you’ll contact us to arrange a free consultation. Give us a call at (516) 399-2364.