Most people spend more waking hours at work than they do in their own homes. That means that we’re just as likely to be injured at work, as we are at home—even if we sit behind a computer in cube-land. However, most injuries and accidents in the workplace are preventable with some easy safety tips. Follow these five tips to make your office safer and healthier.
- Eliminate physical obstacles. Some of the most common workplace injuries result from falling. Employees may sprain or strain a joint, or even break bones during a fall.
- Clear the path of obstructions, especially electrical cords or cables.
- Try to position furniture so that drawers do not open into the walkway, as they can pose a tripping hazard if left open.
- Ensure that rugs and other floor coverings lay smoothly.
- If a particular floor surface gets slippery, find a way to create extra traction, such as mats or vinyl traction strips.
- Vary employee tasks. Performing the same motions all day long can increase workers’ risk for repetitive stress injuries (RSI), such as carpal tunnel syndrome or chronic back pain.
- If you’re a manager, be sure that employees know they can take breaks every so often. Assign them a variety of tasks that don’t require static posture for long periods.
- As you work, either take a break or switch tasks each hour. You could switch from filing to data entry, or simply take a quick walk to the copy machine.
- In a factory or industrial setting, it’s best if workers rotate positions to avoid fatigue. They may alternate between sitting and standing at their assembly line positions, or actually rotate among multiple work stations that require different skills.
- Make the environment “people friendly.” Various factors—from noise to the presence of chemicals—can take a toll on workers’ health.
- If chemicals or cleaning products are used indoors, be sure that the area is properly ventilated.
- Properly store chemicals and other toxins in their original containers, away from foot traffic.
- Limit noise or wear earplugs if the noise level consistently exceeds a normal range.
- Maintain a steady, comfortable temperature in the work area. If an enclosed workspace is not air conditioned or heated, be sure that workers have a place to cool down or warm up.
- Don’t forget design. Ergonomics plays a vital role in worker safety. A poor workplace layout or the wrong tools contribute to many workplace injuries.
- Get furniture and office accessories that are ergonomically friendly. That means they’re adjustable to different body sizes and encourage proper posture during use.
- Create a logical floor plan for the work area. Place frequently used equipment (such as copy machines) somewhere easily accessible to the people who will use it most. Set up workstation locations based on daily interactions and team configuration.
- Place frequently used desk items close by, to reduce reaching, twisting, and over-extension of the body.
- Follow the rules. Knowing—and abiding by—safety regulations and procedures will protect you and your colleagues from accidents and injuries.
- Learn the proper way to use any equipment, especially power tools or heavy machinery. Wear safety gear, such as protective eyewear or hard hats, whenever necessary.
- Develop and know the procedures for emergencies or accidents. Post these prominently in the locations where these accidents might occur.
- Carefully follow the safety guidelines for any chemicals, cleaning products, or solvents. If you’re using an unfamiliar product, read the labels before use.
If you have questions about workplace safety, OSHA compliance, or employee health screening, the Company Care program at Central Florida Regional Hospital is here to help. Visit us online or call 407-302-7322 to jumpstart your company’s occupational health.