When you spend most of your day in a pleasant, air conditioned office, you might think that you can’t possibly come to any harm. However, hazards in the workplace that increase the risk of injury are more common than you may think. But by making simple changes to your daily routine you can keep yourself out of harms way while at work.
Slips and falls
The majority of office accidents are slips, trips and falls - all of which can be easily prevented. There are many hazards in the workplace that can result in a fall, including exposed electrical wires, open drawers and wet or uneven floors. Falls can also occur when an employee uses a chair or other object as something to stand on.
Although your employer should do what they can to remove any risks, you should always stay alert to potential dangers and report them immediately. If you need to reach something that is too high, speak to your manager who will work out the safest way to do so; if you spill something on the floor, have it cleaned up as quickly as possible. Taking care not to rush around the office (even when things are hectic!) can also prevent unnecessary accidents.
People who work in warehouses and other environments that require regular lifting have almost certainly be trained in correct lifting procedures. However, when you’re working in an office where lifting isn’t part of your everyday job, you may not have had this training and are at a risk of causing yourself harm, and other related industrial accidents.
An improper lifting technique can result in a serious work related injury - most commonly shoulder and back strain - even when lifting light objects.
Never lift heavy objects on your own - always ask for assistance from a colleague. When you are lifting, squat down and take hold of the object then lift yourself up again using only your legs - your back should be kept straight the whole time.
Ergonomics in the office
You may have heard the word ‘ergonomic’ come up from time-to-time, but have you ever considered how it affects your health? Sitting at an office desk for eight hours a day may seem harmless enough, but if your workstation isn’t set up ergonomically you could slowly be causing damage to yourself.
When ergonomics in the office is not taken into account within the small business environment, the following types of work related injury can result: Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, muscle strains (back, neck and shoulders are the most common) and Bursitis.
Ways to avoid a work related injury in the office:
- Ensuring your feet always stay flat on the ground - this will reduce back strain. If your feet don’t reach the ground, ask your employer for a footrest.
- A trackball and touchpad mouse can reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries
- Curved or contoured keyboards put less strain on your hands, wrists and shoulders
- Adjust your chair to a comfortable height; your eyes should be level with the middle of your computer screen. A lumbar support is recommended.
- A cushioned wrist support will prevent strain on your wrists and arms;
Cuts and bruises
Just as you can get cuts and bruises around the house and when out and about, they can also happen in the office. Whether it’s an item falling from a shelf, a sharp knife in the kitchen or someone throwing something across the room - these can all cause both minor and serious injuries.
To avoid these types of accidents you must always stay alert to potential hazards in the workplace. Make sure heavy items are placed on low shelves, never throw objects and ensure any dangerous items, such as knives, are locked up in a safe place.
Remember, it is not just your safety you’re looking out for, it is the safety of those around you as well.