You might think worrying about staying safe in an office environment is silly, but you would be surprised how many serious hazards can present themselves during a hectic work day. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 80 thousand office workers are injured every year, with the majority of those injuries resulting from falling down or being hit by an object. Injuries at the office result in worker’s compensation claims, time off, and slowed productivity, none of which is something a boss wants! A few simple safety precautions in the workplace can go a long way.
1. Getting Rid of Clutter
The first step to de-cluttering your office is to make sure all walkways are clear. There should be no boxes or other objects making it difficult for people to get around corners and down hallways. All office supplies and tools should be in their proper drawer or cabinet, especially sharp objects like scissors, paper cutters, box cutters, and pins. You should also have a designated drawer or cabinet for first aid supplies. Bandages, hydrogen peroxide, and a cold compress are good things to have on hand. Papers should be filed in their proper place, with all drawers shut tightly when nobody is looking through them. Get rid of material you don’t need – encourage employees to simplify their desks and move old paperwork and projects to an archive storage.
2. Reducing Injuries from Strain
Many injuries in an office setting come from the dangers associated with prolonged sitting and working at a desk. It’s important that employees know how to adjust chairs, monitors, and document holders correctly to reduce the impact on their muscles. They should also know the risks when it comes to straining their eyes and take regular breaks from staring at the computer screen. Supervisors and CEOs should do their best to minimize fluorescent lighting and provide their employees with quality equipment – it can save them thousands of dollars in medical costs in the long run. Proper training on how to lift boxes, how to use office tools, and how to recognize signs of muscle injury should be part of training for new hires.
3. Fire Safety
Just like with any home or store, an office building should always keep fire safety in mind. Fire doors should never be left propped open and the path to all emergency exits should be kept clear of objects at all times. Some offices also have a problem with blocking the range of fire sprinklers with stacked objects or tall furniture. Fire sprinklers and alarms should be routinely checked to make sure they are in working order. And get rid of those old extension cords! Any frayed or broken electrical cord is a violation of safety codes. Of a fire does spark, make sure the entire office knows exactly what route to take for escape.
Working in an office is a lot different than working construction or other high-risk jobs, but that doesn’t mean you and your co-workers shouldn’t think about being safe. A clean, organized, open environment where your needs are met and your concerns are listened to will make the work day go by more smoothly than anybody imagined. When everything is in its rightful place, you’re more likely to feel that you are too.
Sara Randall writes for several design blogs. When planning your business workspace don’t forget to have plenty of storage, including a tool cabinet.