The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2013, just a few short years ago, some 3 million non-fatal injuries were reported in office environments. Not unsurprising, falls are the number one injury in office environments, where it’s easy to allow yourself to be lulled (or entirely bored) into a false sense of safety.
While a clumsy person isn’t going to have much long-term success working as a lumberjack, he or she can still work in an office, survive, and hopefully end their career with all their limbs attached. Still, most all office injuries are entirely avoidable, so long as everyone practices good common sense and looks out for themselves and their fellow coworkers.
Here’s several quick tips to avoid “falling” victim to an office “slip up” — all puns intended!
Make it a must that all boxes, computer towers, cords, and other tripping hazards be kept out of walkways. Even if you’re the only one walking in an area, there’s still a chance you’ll be doing a nose-dive sooner or later. Ensure all cords are properly secured and covered.
2. Step ladders over chairs and desks
Standing on anything other than a step stool or step ladder when reaching for items out of reach is perhaps one of the easiest ways to break bones and lose consciousness. Just don’t do it! Have someone spot you even if you’re using the right gear.
3. Mirrors in blind spots
Install convex mirrors at blind corners, cubicle walls, and any other area where vision is obstructed and potential collisions can occur. I’ve been there and two bodies colliding unexpectedly rarely turns out well.
4. Install skid resistant carpets on slippery walkways
It may look nice to have a glass-like finish on every square inch of flooring in the office, but floors you can see your reflection in are the most dangerous — wet or dry. Install flooring in walkways and particularly at entrances and exits.
5. Keep drawers closed at all times
Open filing cabinets, desk drawers, fridge doors, etc., all pose a tripping/injury hazard. Keep them closed and never hesitate fixing/replacing unruly drawers and doors that like to open because of defects and improper levelling. Filing cabinets are a major concern when workers open too many drawers at once, making for a dangerous tipping hazard.
6. Keep heavy stuff on the floor
Don’t place appliances, heavy boxes of paperwork, or any other heavy objects on shelving or any other storage area above floor level. All it takes is for a shelf to give out or someone trying to move these objects without the proper assistance and major injuries become a very real possibility.
7. Teach and enforce good ergonomics
Poor ergonomics cause back and neck problems, and can lead to any number of different falling scenarios. First of all, set up your office and work areas for ergonomic success. The cost of high-tech ergonomic equipment will pale in comparison to increased insurance premiums and lost time when a worker pulls their back out or has to have surgery for carpal tunnel and can’t come to work for months on end.
Next, make it mandatory that everyone fall in line with things like proper posture, using standing desks, and other good ergonomic habits. When you see someone slouching at their desk on your way to the break room, remind them what it’s doing to the back and that you care about them and want them to live pain-free well into their nineties!
8. Dim the lights and offer other vision protective gear
Dim the lights in the office to half the level that’s considered normal. Normal for most offices is the same as what you’ll find at most modernized retail stores like Walmart. This is far too bright and can cause eye strain, headaches, and neck/back problems as workers naturally tip their head forward to avoid looking directly at overhead lighting.
This in turn can lead to a surprising number of falls due to dizziness and vision issues. Offer blue light blocking glasses free of charge and/or blue light screen filters for monitors. Provide lamps at everyone’s desk in case they prefer a lighter environment at their desk.
9. Encourage employee feedback and participation
An office safety committee is always a good idea. Even if that doesn’t work for your office, managers still need to conduct regular walkthroughs with their staff to look for hazards that can lead to falls and other injuries. never ignore suggestions and always follow up on feedback and explain why you will or won’t act on them.
10. Keep your eyes open!
You can’t always protect other people from hurting themselves, but you can certainly protect yourself from tripping, running into something/someone, or doing dumb things that defy common sense.
Main Image Credit: wistechcolleges/Flickr