When we think about injury in the workplace, we usually think of factory or warehouse jobs or other occupations that involve manual labor. In fact, many people gravitate towards office jobs because of their perceived low risk. However, injury in the office environment is more common than you may think. Prevent office injuries with our safety tips.
Repetitive Stress Injuries
Repetitive stress injuries are very common among office workers. Make sure that your workspace is configured correctly to avoid problems like carpal tunnel syndrome, back problems, and eyestrain.
- Use correct posture when sitting in your chair. Sit with both feet flat on the floor and your back straight. Hunching your shoulders or slouching can lead to neck and back issues, sometimes very serious.
- Position your keyboard correctly. You should be able to type without moving from your correct seating position, and your wrists should be straight.
- You should also be able to use your mouse in a similar position. Make sure not to grip your mouse too hard. With both keyboard and mouse, use as little force as possible to get the job done. This will help you avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Check your monitor. You should be able to look at the center of your monitor with your head straight. If you need to look up or down, reposition your display.
- Be aware of symptoms of eyestrain. Looking at a computer monitor all day can be taxing for your eyes. If you find that it is sometimes tiring or disorienting to look at your monitor, you may be experiencing eyestrain. Try adjusting your monitor’s brightness and color settings. If possible, use natural or incandescent light in your office rather than fluorescent. If your problem persists after making these adjustments, schedule an eye exam to rule out more serious problems.
Be Wary of Falls
Believe it or not, falls are the most common office injury, and falls at office jobs are more than twice as likely to result in disability as non-office jobs. Take measures to avoid a fall at work.
- Make sure your path is clear before walking.
- Pick up any objects dropped on the floor, whether by you or your coworkers.
- Make sure there are no loose cords or wires in walking paths. Cords should be secured against walls.
- Don’t try to reach too far while sitting. It’s easy to overbalance when reaching for something behind or above you. If you’re not sure you can reach something from your chair, stand up to retrieve it.
- Always use a stepladder when climbing is required. Never use a chair or other piece of furniture in place of a stepladder. You want to maintain sturdy footing and balance while reaching overhead.
- Always clean up spills immediately and be on the lookout for wet floors.
- Wear comfortable shoes with non-skid soles.
Office work often involves lifting objects, including heavy objects. Boxes of paper or documents can be quite heavy, for example. Make an effort to prevent office lifting injuries by following these guidelines.
- Lift with your legs, not your back. This means you should bend your legs while lifting while your back remains straight. Lifting this way keeps you from overtaxing your back muscles, which are not as strong as the muscles in your legs.
- Grip the item securely, using your whole hand, and hold it close to your body.
- Don’t forget to use the same “legs not back” posture when putting the item down.
- Never lift objects that are too heavy for you. If you have any doubt at all, use a cart or a dolly instead. And don’t hesitate to ask for assistance.
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