November - General Office Safety
General Office Safety
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that 40,000 office workers sustain disabling injuries each year and that 200 of these injuries are fatal. In addition to these, there are countless other cases of back injuries, bruises and skin rashes that aren’t reported because they aren’t considered to be a direct result of an unsafe office. A conservative estimate is that more than $100,000,000 is lost annually in medical and worker’s compensation costs due to office-related injuries. Office safety should not be taken lightly or as trivial matter, it is an important aspect of workplace safety.
The leading cause of disabling office accidents are slips, trips and falls, strains, overexertion, falling objects and workers striking objects or caught in or between objects. Other office related accidents are caused by electrical equipment, wiring and fires.
COMMON CAUSES OF SLIPS, TRIPS & FALLS
• Tripping on open desk drawers or file drawers.
• Bending over while sitting in an unstable chair.
• Tripping over electrical cords or wires.
• Using a chair or stack of boxes for a ladder.
• Tripping over loose carpeting or broken tiles.
• Slipping on wet floors.
• Tripping over objects stored in hallways or walkways.
• Tripping because of inadequate lighting.
All of these hazards are preventable.
TIPS TO HELP PREVENT THESE HAZARDS
• Close drawers after each use.
• Don’t run in an office or hallways.
• Check for clear pathways, aisles and exits before walking with a load or without.
• Avoid bending, twisting or leaning backwards when sitting.
• Keep all electrical cords and wiring clear of walkways.
• Always use a stepladder for overhead reaching.
• Clean up spills immediately.
• Report damaged carpeting or broken tiles.
• Don’t carry anything that obscures your vision.
• Wear stable shoes with non-slip soles.
If you feel yourself falling, try to roll on your side. By crumpling and rolling, you are more likely to be able to absorb the impact without incurring a critical injury. Using the hand or arm to break a fall will sometimes cause you to break a limb.
OTHER OFFICE- RELATED INJURIES
We would like to think that heavy lifting should not be a part of our job. However, occasionally it comes a time when a box will have to be moved and no one is around to help. Improper lifting results in back injuries that could be avoided by using the right techniques or not stretching our limits. If lifting becomes necessary, there are some tips that will help to avoid an injury.
• Lift with your legs, not our back. The leg muscles are larger and better positioned over the hips and knees to lift safety.
• Always position your hips and feet toward the object you are lifting or moving. Do not twist.
• Maintain your natural posture of your neck, upper and lower back while lifting, moving and sitting.
• Keep the weight close to your body to avoid the strain on your spine.
• Push – don’t pull! Pushing places your legs in a natural position to do the work. Pulling forces your back into a forward, bent position.
AVOIDING A BACK INJURY-You should:
• Avoid twisting when you lift a load. If the area lends itself to lifting in a twist, try to rearrange the area to avoid this.
• Store materials at knee level as much as possible.
• Avoid carrying loads for a long distance.
• Arrange articles on shelving to avoid having to reach in a forward position.
We mentioned earlier in the text that a common hazard in the office is open desk or file drawers. We can get hit against office equipment and this is another cause of injuries in the office.
• File cabinets and open file drawers obstructing the work space presents a hazard.
• Having two or more drawers open in a file cabinet can cause it to obstruct a walking path or get overbalanced and fall into someone.
• Doors opening into a walking space.
• Sharp objects such as staples, files and other office materials can cause injuries.
• Unsafe office equipment can be a hazard.
We have been very fortunate throughout our system in avoiding serious back injuries or other office related injuries. If we use these tips and try to remain focused as we work, this trend will continue and we can be more productive and happier, as we work with no pain.
GOOD HOUSEKEEPING MEANS SAFE KEEPING !!
BE AWARE-BE ALERT & BE ALIVE!
8/20/2005 Excerpts: www.slosipe.org
Ted Gordon is the Risk Management/Loss Control Manager for the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. His office is located in the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center, in Verona, MS. His telephone number is 662-566-2201.