Top 4 Overlooked Office Safety Hazards

Overlooked Safety Hazards

Compared to field work like construction, mining, and chemical mixing, working at a desk is relatively safer. Of course, that doesn't mean that the office is completely devoid of hazards.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2017, there were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers. Such injuries lead to lost hours, hefty health care fees, and lost productivity.

Here are the top 4 overlooked office safety hazards and some tips on how to prevent them.

1. Workstation Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of designing the workplace for the comfort of the employee in order to maximize efficiency and productivity. Workplaces often conduct ergonomic risk assessments to identify stressors in the office and come up with solutions on how to minimize them.

Office work means long hours spent sitting and a sedentary lifestyle has been linked to unwanted weight gain, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and even osteoporosis. Exercising for an hour every day doesn't exempt you if you continue to sit for hours at a time.

Here are some ergonomic tips to optimize your workstation and habits:

  1. Stand and stretch for 3-5 minutes every half an hour for proper blood circulation.

  2. The monitor should be at eye-level to avoid neck strain.

  3. Reduce eye strain by placing the monitor at least an arm's length away.

  4. Use a chair that has lumbar support and level arm rests.

  5. If possible, use an adjustable standing desk.

2. Trip, Slip, and Fall Hazards

The National Safety Council reported that "fall from the same level" as a cause of injury cost $7.94 billion in healthcare fees back in 2011, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that same-level falls encompassed 65% of workplace fall injuries.

Tips to prevent trips:

  1. The working surface in the office must be even

  2. Walkway views should not be obstructed

  3. Lighting should be adequate

  4. Cables should be fastened or taped to the ground

  5. Carpeting must be flat with no wrinkling

  6. Get rid of clutter on the ground and hallways

  7. Ensure bottom drawers are closed after use

Tips to prevent slips:

  1. Ensure that wet or oily surfaces are wiped, or have hazard signages.

  2. Tape down rugs or mats

  3. Working surfaces must have adequate traction

  4. Wear shoes that have adequate traction

3. Fire Safety

Office fires can be absolutely disastrous, which is why taking preventive measures are of utmost importance. Defective electronics, accidental damage, and employee negligence are some of the most common culprits for office fires.

Fire safety can be achieved by:

  1. Properly equipping your office with fire detection/warning systems.

  2. Reviewing and maintaining electrical lines to make sure they're not damaged or defective.

  3. Making sure fire exits are not obstructed.

  4. Appointing a trained fire warden.

  5. Providing training to employees on how to react in case of a fire.

4. Eye Strain

Computers have made so much of our work easier, yet they also place a heavy strain on one of our most important vital organs. Digital eye strain translates to red eyes, eye twitching, and overall eye fatigue which hurts both your productivity and your eye health.

Eye strain can be reduced by:

  1. Installing an anti-glare screen on your monitor or covering the windows to keep sunlight off.

  2. Using a LED or LCD monitor instead of an old CRT monitor.

  3. Adjusting your monitor's brightness setting to match your surrounding workstation.

  4. Adjusting the text size for comfort.

  5. Utilizing the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, look at a distant object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds).

  6. Frequently taking breaks away from a digital screen (computers, phones, and tablets)

  7. Wearing protective computer eyewear.

An effective way of identifying hidden hazards lurking in your office workplace is to make use of an office safety checklist. Checklists are great tools because they encourage managers to perform regular checks and instruct them to assess areas they otherwise would overlook. By introducing regular inspections in your office you can protect your workers and improve productivity.

Guest Author

Juhlian Pimping

Juhlian Pimping is a content writer for SafetyCulture. SafetyCulture is a software company with its flagship product iAuditor - the world's #1 inspection platform.