When most people think about job safety, they often think of massive machinery in factories, the many dangers around a construction site, or the potential of someone getting hurt while using power tools. Many view office environments to be safe havens, with the only real danger being a papercut. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tens of thousands of private-industry office and administrative workers suffer on-the-job injuries each year. Many of the accidents can be prevented if workers and supervisors take time to recognize the risks and implement a simple workplace safety plan. Complacency is a common cause of office accidents. Because of this, employers and employees should constantly communicate about workplace health and safety. Everyone should be an active part of the office safety plan and continuous safety should be required.
The first step to creating an office safety plan is to identify the potential risks. One of the most common office hazards is the dreaded slip and fall. Office workers are 2.5 times more likely to slip and fall in the workplace as opposed to workers in other industries. Other common causes of office injuries include poor ergonomics, inclement weather, fire, and even incidents involving burglars or irate customers.
After identifying potential causes of injuries, create an action plan to mitigate each one. For example, to combat slip and fall injuries, keep doorways clean of rain or ice, keep walkways and stairwells clear of objects and debris, and clean up spills or leaks immediately. To prevent ergonomic injuries, employees should use adjustable office equipment designed or ergonomic support. Employees may also want to take brief resting periods to stretch and walk around to avoid musculoskeletal injuries. Frequently test fire alarms and have fire drills a few times a year to ensure employees know what to do and where to go in case of a fire or emergency that requires an evacuation.
Other parts of your plan should include what to do if an incident does occur. This part of the plan should include the who, what, why, when and how of any action taking place after an incident. For example:
- Who is responsible for assessing the situation and making decisions?
- What steps can be taken to avoid further injury?
- When is it necessary to call for emergency services?
Have a disaster plan in place for how to deal with each potential incident. There is no such thing as being over prepared. There is a lot of risk in being unprepared. There are many who do not think the office environment poses many threats. However, there are many things that can turn a “typical day at the office” into a disaster if the proper safety plan is not in place. Office accidents may not be the same as those occurring in other industries, but they are just as common and just as much a threat to life as any. Having an workplace safety plan in place can prevent many workplace injuries, or even death.
For creative workplace safety ideas, safety programs and more, contact the Safety Pros!