Maintaining A Healthy And Safe Office Environment

Maintaining a healthy and safe office is one of the most important factors in ensuring employee productivity. It's also simply the right thing to do

October 31, 2018
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It can be difficult to maintain a healthy and safe office or workspace, especially in the colder winter months. Employees crowded together in an enclosed space, breathing the same circulated air and touching the same equipment is a playground for illness. Workplace injuries can happen anywhere, at any time, and being prepared for them when they happen is necessary for any office. Here are some tips to help you to prevent illness and avoid injury and health risks on the job, whether you are the CEO or an entry-level employee.

Preventing Illness

A cold can wreak havoc on an individual’s life, but introduce that cold into an office setting and it can seriously affect the ability of a business to operate. Sickness tends to spread like wildfire from person to person, as someone may not even know that they are contagious until it is too late. Illness also tends to have a domino effect, where you watch your coworkers or employees slowly fall one at a time to it, throwing a huge wrench into your business operations.

While people will always get sick, there are easy and effective ways to limit the spread of germs in the office. First and foremost, remembering to wash your hands properly and regularly can make a world of difference to the overall healthiness of your workplace. Supplement your hand-washing with the use of hand sanitizer and make it a habit to wipe down your workspace with antimicrobial cleaning products. Finally, keep a good distance between you and any of your coworkers who are visibly ill to avoid catching any nasty bugs.

If you work in an environment where you are exposed to infectious diseases or help vulnerable populations, you may have to hire professionals to disinfect your office. If you work in a healthcare related field, disinfecting against the MRSA bacteria is particularly important as it spreads quickly and is resistant to drugs. Schedule regular cleanings to ensure that your workplace remains healthy and productive.

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Workplace Injury

Injuries happen at work. Regardless of how much preparation is made or preventative measures are enacted, eventually, someone will suffer an injury. Despite their inevitability, the seriousness and frequency of workplace injury can be curbed significantly by following a strict safety protocol. Employers that do their best to help employees avoid injury on the job are also doing themselves a favor by reducing the risk of liability and litigation.

If you do happen to be injured on the job, there is a clearly defined process for successfully handling workplace injuries. First, if the injury is particularly severe, emergency services should be notified immediately and you should seek treatment. If the injury isn’t bad enough to warrant a trip to the hospital or after you’ve been treated, you should report the accident to your superiors as soon as possible. Discuss the implications the injury has in regards to your ability to perform your duties, and make sure to go to any and all follow-up doctors appointments to avoid exacerbating the injury.

Depending on the circumstances of the injury, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation. Worker’s compensation is a form of insurance that protects both employees and employers from lost wages and medical expenses. While worker’s compensation laws can vary from state to state, the biggest factors that will bar you from collecting worker’s compensation are if the injury resulted from an altercation that you started, if you sustained the injury intentionally, or if you were intoxicated at the time of the injury.

Helping Employees Avoid Health Risks

Not all injuries sustained on the job are catastrophic and instantaneous. There are plenty of health risks associated with working in an office environment that don’t involve illness or broken bones. When employees are aware of these hidden risks, mitigating them is usually as easy as taking a break, standing up, and walking around.

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If your job involves working on a computer for an extended period of time, there are a few avoidable health risks you should know about. Your posture can be greatly affected by sitting in an office chair all day, and constant slouching can lead to the development of chronic back and neck pain. While persistent dry eyes caused by staring at a computer screen all day can be treated easily with artificial tear eye drops, your eyes may be suffering more damage than you thought. Your computer screen causes serious eye strain from being either too bright or too dim, and the blue light emitted by the screen can compound the fatigue your eyes experience. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is another health concern that can affect anyone who’s job duties include a significant amount of typing. Literally, all you need to do to avoid developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is to practice proper typing form, and when using your computer mouse making sure to move your whole arm instead of just your wrist.

The most dangerous of these types of conditions is Deep Vein Thrombosis, also referred to as the “Sitting Disease”. Individuals who are sedentary for too long can develop blood clots in the large veins in their legs and arms that have the potential to break loose and make their way to the heart or lungs, causing serious injury or even death. Women on birth control are especially at risk for developing DVT, as the estrogen found in birth control increases the clotting factors present in the body. Regular breaks where you take vigorous walks can help to prevent DVT from harming you.