When you think about getting injured on the job you probably think about careers where physical labor or heavy equipment is involved. The truth is that the CDC estimates that trip and fall accidents that cause injuries are the most common incidents in the workplace, and most actually happen in an office setting. A large part of avoiding injuries in the workplace is prevention. Working together with your company’s management, you can ensure that everyone stays safe within your office environment. Most commonly office workers suffer from injuries to the back, neck, hands, wrists and vision. Before you end up having to take counsel with a group of injury attorneys, take stock of how safe your workspace actually is. Educate your staff and coworkers about how to stay safe while they are working. Bending and lifting safely and setting up your workspace to minimize the stress on your body are just a few ways to stay healthy while at work.
Trips & Falls
Most trip and fall accidents happen along a stairway, which makes office buildings a prime area for injuries. You can also trip over a drawer left open, loose carpet seams or wet floors. If you do a lot of walking in your job, it may not be a bad idea to invest in a good pair of non-slip soled shoes and leave the 6-inch heels at home. Avoid standing on your chair or desk to try and reach something above you, and get a proper step ladder to do the job. Keep your reaching to a minimum especially when you are seated. Reaching past your natural extension is more likely when you are seated, causing back strain and injury.
It’s true that office work doesn’t involve the same amount of lifting as other occupations, but there are still items that need to be moved. The weight of the object is actually less important than the method with which you lift as far as injuries go. If you need to lift a box of files or sheaves of paper, make sure that you are doing it properly. It can be easy to injure your back, shoulders or neck when you lift something carelessly. Always lift with your legs, keeping your spine straight and your ankles flexed. For heavier items, keep the package closer to your body to eliminate unnecessary strain.
Work Station Organization
When you work in an office setting, a large majority of your day will be spent sitting at your workstation. It’s important to give yourself time to get up and stretch at least once an hour to maintain proper circulation. Sitting for too long in any position can cause your back to strain so it’s important that you have the best fitting chair. The placement of your computer, keyboard, phone and files can all impact how your body will cope with the strain of your day.
- Choose an ergonomically sound chair that will give you enough support through your day
- Get properly fitted for the right chair
- Your thighs should sit horizontal to the floor when sitting with your feet placed flat on the floor
- Adjust your lumbar support to comfortably support your lower back
- When reaching forward onto your desk to type your elbows should rest at a comfortable 90 degree angle
- Place your computer screen so that you are looking at it straight on and not looking up or down
- Turn the computer screen away from windows or other sources of glare
- Place your phone and files within a comfortable reach without having to stretch repeatedly
Even office work can be a hazardous occupation if you are not being proactive about your safety. Small repetitive tasks like typing can be the cause of injuries like neck strain or repetitive stress injuries that can affect your ability to do your job. Staying aware of your surroundings and eliminating hazards where possible is a great first step to staying safe at work.