4.6 million workers are injured on the job every year, the National Safety Council reveals. In the office, falling is the most common accident with office workers 2 to 2.5 times more likely to sustain an injury from a fall than non-office workers. Whether it’s falling, ergonomic injuries, or fire hazards, it’s essential office workers learn to recognize common dangers in the workplace and take proactive steps to protect their health and safety.
Poor ergonomics essentially describes a disharmonious workplace setup. For example, inadequate chairs typically have badly positioned armrests and don’t provide enough back support or seat cushioning. As a result, prolonged periods of sitting can throw your spine out of alignment and result in musculoskeletal disorders, including back, neck, and shoulder pain. Research from Harvard University additionally reveals poor posture causes chronic back pain, neck tightness, fatigue, and heartburn. Fortunately, an ergonomic chair can provide you with adequate support throughout the working day. These chairs are well-cushioned and curve with your back to support your shoulders and back. You can also minimize pressure on your shoulders, neck, and wrists by positioning your armrests correctly. Your arms should be gently supported with your elbows at around a 90-degree angle and your hands around your lap.
Slips, trips, and falls
Falls are the second leading cause of injury-related death. In 2019, 880 workers died in falls while 244,000 workers required time off work to recover from fall-related injury. In the office, slips, trips, and falls have numerous causes ranging from poor lighting, clutter, loose flooring, mats, or rugs, spillages, and exposed wires. It’s important to keep an eye out for such hazards and tackle them when they appear (or otherwise inform your manager).
For example, spills should be cleared up immediately while signs should be used to indicate wet flooring. Workspaces should also be kept clean and clutter-free. If you do sustain an injury while on the job, workers’ compensation provides coverage in many states. In Texas, however, employers may be non-subscribers to workers’ comp and invest instead in private coverage, which means they may potentially be liable for negligence and injury, Johnson Garcia LLP, a Houston work injury lawyer, explains. In this case, consulting an experienced lawyer can help protect your legal rights and win the financial compensation you deserve.
You should also be provided with fire safety training at work, which includes learning what to do in the event of a fire (such as, raising the alarm and evacuating the building), as well as who the fire wardens are.
You should always check where the fire extinguishers are kept in your office and memorize where the nearest fire exits are to your desk. Keeping a clean and clutter-free workspace also reduces the “fire load”, helping minimize the risk of a fire starting and spreading.
Office health and safety should always be a priority. By improving ergonomics, preventing slips, trips, and falls, and learning fire safety, you can keep yourself safe, healthy, and injury-free at work.