We often associate occupational safety with hard hats, safety harnesses, and steel-toed boots. Hazards are only present in workplaces that feature large machinery, blazing furnaces, and high scaffolding…. Right? If only that were the case. There are safety hazards that are present even in the most seemingly forgiving workplace.
Many American’s are employed in an office setting. Whether it’s a one story dentist building in a small suburb, or a law firm on the 20th floor of a skyscraper in downtown Chicago, every office scenario has the potential to be dangerous. Small businesses and large corporations alike, no one wants to deal with a lawsuit stemming from an avoidable injury. Even if your workforce primarily pushes papers from behind a desk, you should conduct regular assessments to identify potential hazards.
Here is a list and description of five often overlooked office hazards that could be relevant to your workplace. Keep an eye out for these as you conduct your hazard assessment and be sure your office is free of these:
1. Stranger Danger:
Receptionists need to be prepared to handle upset customers. This hazard is more relevant to certain offices, especially those dealing with human services. However, there needs to be protocol for any situation involving an aggressive, violent, or erratic customer.
2. Box Barrier:
It is easy to pack away old files into boxes and let them pile up in a back room somewhere. Do not let this happen in your workplace! That box someone needs is at the very top of the stack, just out of reach. When they finally get it down by swatting at it with their finger tips, you may be looking at an employee with a busted foot or head injury. Highly stacked boxes present a significant fire hazard as well. Always ensure at least an 18 inch gap between a ceiling sprinkler and any other material. Boxes, filing cabinets, or other objects stacked close to a sprinkler can decrease its effectiveness in the event of a fire.
3. Put a lid on it:
Coffee is a key component to any office setting. However, coffee is good when it is hot; really, really hot. Unfortunately, hot coffee and skin don’t mix and the meeting of the two can result in very painful burns. Coffee is also detrimental to electronics such as phones and keyboards. Keep your employees’ skin and your office equipment safe by providing lids at the office coffee station.
4. Stress Test:
Healthy employees produce healthy work. Office managers need to make sure they are keeping their employees mental health a top priority. Stress can be a gateway to a variety of other mental issues. Although some stress is healthy, over-stress is hard on the body.
5. ‘Waist’ it:
Many offices have shelves stacked with old records, computers, phones, or other office supplies that are not in use. Remember, heavy objects should not be placed on a shelf that is higher than waist level. Reaching up to place heavy objects on shelves can be dangerous. Be sure to stack heavy items from the bottom up, but no higher than waist level.
These are just 5 of potential hazards found in many offices. There are many more office hazards that can go undetected in your place of work. Hazards do not have to be life-threating. They have only to pose even the smallest risk to the physical health of an employee. Be thorough and cover all facets when assessing the safety of your office. As always, take the opinions and concerns of the employees into sincere account. Little hazards for employees can end up becoming big problems. Dealing with a small hazard now is better for you and your staff than dealing with an injured worker later.