Avoid Office Hazards

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Avoid Office Hazards

Workplace health and safety awareness is a high priority for those who work with heavy machinery, moving equipment or in construction sites, whereas sitting at a desk most of the time does not seem particularly risky. However, there are a surprising number of hazards in an office environment. Many injuries are preventable by recognising these risks.

Slips and falls

Falls are a common problem. Placing carpet and skid-resistant surfaces on indoor tiled areas can help to reduce falls. If the entrance to your office building is slippery when wet, place a slippery surface warning sign.

Storage and filing

Many items are stored in offices, such as files, office supplies, printer parts and product samples. Overloaded shelves are a common hazard, as are heavy items being stored high on shelves, moving compactus shelves and workers repeatedly reaching up and down for items. To avoid injuries:

  1. Use the best type of shelving for your needs
  2. Stack safely – store heavy or large items no higher than waist level and place frequently handled items within easy reach
  3. Supply the correct step stools or ladders to access high items, and train staff to use them
  4. Do not overload shelves

 

Kitchens

Most offices have a shared kitchen. It is important to keep the kitchen areas tidy and clean, and to remove spills immediately to prevent falls. To avoid kitchen injuries:

  1. Be careful with hot microwaved foods and drinks
  2. Test and tag electrical appliances regularly
  3. Turn off electrical appliances when not in use
  4. Clean benchtops after use
  5. Place caution signs on hot water or hot surfaces
  6. Remove food past its expiry date from the refrigerator
  7. Clean up food or liquid spills and if the floor is wet, place a wet floor warning sign
  8. Close drawers and cupboards

 

Office equipment

Office equipment includes items such as computers, monitors, chairs, photocopiers, printers, inks, toners and desk lamps. To avoid office equipment injuries:

  1. Provide adjustable, ergonomic equipment, such as workbenches, monitor stands and keyboards
  2. Keep walkways clear of clutter and cable-free
  3. Ventilate photocopying areas to avoid fumes
  4. Display ink and toner safety sheets
  5. Display warning signs for operating shredders and laminators – loose clothing, jewellery and long hair can become caught in machinery
  6. Train staff how to operate all office equipment
  7. Position monitors correctly – slightly below eye level and about 51-66cms from eyes
  8. Use monitor glare guards to reduce reflection if needed
  9. Increase font size on computers to avoid eye strain
  10. Train workers to take breaks to avoid eye and back strain

 

Administrative controls

The best way to reduce injuries is to quickly identify and address potential hazards. This can be accomplished by conducting regular walk throughs to identify possible risks and establish a reporting system so employees know how and where to report issues.

A risk register should provide as much information as possible, for example:

  1. Identify the hazard in the area
  2. Provide details of the associated risk
  3. Escalation procedure for getting it fixed
  4. Show the date the hazard was found and the action taken to fix the hazard

 

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