5 Common Office Hazards & How to Reduce the Risk

    Offices might not seem like the most hazardous workplaces around, but they have their own fair share of dangers that need to be addressed. There are many health and safety risks that surround people working in an office and it’s important to take measures to prevent them from causing distress or injury. Here are some that are worth watching out for.

    Eye strain

    Most office jobs are centred around working with a computer. This means several hours of the day are spent continuously looking at a computer screen. Unfortunately, this can be very taxing for the eyes and it’s not uncommon for workers to get strained eyes after a while. Eyesight can get damaged and workers might eventually require glasses simply because they work in front of a screen.

    One of the reasons that looking at a screen causes eye strain is the glare that is produced from other light sources. Closing down blinds and dimming overhead light sources would diminish this effect significantly. On the other hand, frequent breaks should be encouraged for workers and they shouldn’t spend these breaks in front of their computer. A short walk outside during their coffee break would help eyes adjust properly. Ten minutes per hour should be spent away from the computer at the very least.

    Inadequate ergonomics

    Most office hazards are pretty obvious and easily noticeable, but there are some that are silent and their effects aren’t felt immediately. Working in an office often implies sitting immobile for several hours at a time. This isn’t very good for back health and posture. A lack of movement can put a huge strain on the back and many employees will end up with subtle musculoskeletal injuries as a result.
    The type of chairs available to the office can be a big influence on this. If the chairs or desks are adjustable to fit the needs of the employee, that would significantly reduce the chance of injuries over time. A lot of offices are considering sit-stand desks for this reason. They allow workers to change their working position from time to time and this can do a lot of good for posture.

    Air quality

    The quality of the air isn’t something you think about in the office, but you might not realise how much it matters. There has been a rise in occupational asthma recently and it’s attributed to the stuffiness and the bad quality of air within offices.
    Preventing this should be simple enough. Opening windows often while also allowing the breeze to flow through the office would do wonders for the air. Better cleaning and filtration systems can prevent the accumulation of moulds and similar harmful growths.

    Fire and smoke

    Fires are some of the more dynamic and dangerous hazards that you can encounter in any workplace. They can start and spread quickly and this makes them a recipe for disaster. One of the first things you cover when learning how to avoid office hazards is preventing fires and their spread. It’s surprising how many different ways a fire can start in an office environment.
    Offices don’t use any type of equipment that runs on heat generation, so most fires actually come from electrical sources. Mismanaged wiring and overloaded extension cords are some of the more common causes. When sources of large amounts of electricity are located near very flammable materials like paper, it can lead to problems. Preventing this should be easy. Use reliable extension cords and don’t put too many electrical connections into one socket. Electrical gear should also be kept away from paper and other flammable items.

    Trips, slips, and falls

    Missteps on uneven or slippery surfaces are some of the most common causes of injuries in an office environment. They happen due to a variety of reasons. Unattended spills, wet floors near the door, or disorganized cables are some of the most common causes of missteps. Entry and exit areas are most prone to these types of injuries during stormy weather. People drag in a lot of water with their boots and this leads to the floor getting wetter and wetter until someone slips.

    Attending to spills and wet surfaces should be the first step towards preventing injuries. Until it’s taken care of by cleaning personnel, it might be best to set up a wet floor sign to warn individuals that pass by the slippery surface. Cables are a lot easier to handle, they are easily noticeable and should be moved so that they do not obstruct any walkways.

    Conclusion

    Avoiding employee injury should be the number one priority of employers and HR professionals alike. In an office environment, this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. Take some of these measures into account and you’ll end up with an office that poses a threat to no one.

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