Your office may not look like a minefield of harm-inducing hazards, but workplace injuries can happen anywhere — even when risks aren’t immediately apparent.
Office managers play an important role in promoting office safety. If protecting staff is on your task list, use the information below to learn about training, tools and prevention techniques that work.
Steady the Ground
Falls due to slipping or tripping are the No. 1 cause of injuries that require time off from work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They’re top-of-mind for many office managers, too: 27 percent of Staples Business Advantage InsidersNetwork members viewed trips and falls as the most common personal safety hazard in their offices, according to a recent poll.
You can help significantly reduce these common workplace injuries by ensuring the office space is clean and by communicating to employees when there are hazards. Try these tactics:
- Post warning signs around dangerous areas such as uneven floors or unexpected steps.
- Place floormats near doors to catch snow, ice or water that might be tracked in by employees.
- Replace or repair loose rugs and carpets that have large snags, bumps or upturned edges.
- Help employees to properly use step ladders, rather than furniture, to reach items in tall cabinets or on high shelves.
- Immediately clean up any spills and post signs to flag wet floors.
It’s no secret that sitting at a computer all day isn’t the healthiest setup. Repetitive motions and static postures can cause muscle strain, and prolonged screen exposure can lead to eye irritation, dryness or blurred vision. A huge number — nearly half of respondents — in the Staples poll believed that “aches from working at a computer” were the biggest health risk at their offices. Here’s how to help your colleagues (and yourself!):
- Provide ergonomic-friendly workstation layouts, including adjustable desks, comfortable chairs, keyboard trays and mouse devices to reduce muscle strain.
- Invest in anti-glare monitors that reduce contrast from other light sources and lower eye stress.
- Encourage employees to take breaks from their desks and screens by organizing team walks and stretching sessions.
(Don’t) Feel the Burn
A caffeine or snack fix can be just the thing to keep a productive workday going. But mishaps with breakroom appliances such as toaster ovens or electric kettles can cause serious burns. Prevention is crucial here, so put these safeguards in place ahead of time:
- Post instructions in the breakroom on how to properly store, use and turn off appliances.
- Put up posters, labels, stickers or signs to highlight equipment or surfaces that may be hot.
- Invest in appliances that light up when they’re on or unsafe to touch and automatically switch off when not in use.
- Conduct routine safety checks and consider replacing any devices that show signs of degradation.
- Have first-aid kits on hand to immediately treat burns. Forty-four percent of office managers said first-aid kits were their most important safety tool for any situation.
Though not an injury in itself, severe or continuous fatigue can be a significant hazard. Feeling fatigued affects employees’ ability to think clearly, which may contribute to mishaps either on or off the job. Here are some ways you can combat fatigue:
- Explore resources on fatigue-associated risks and how companies can manage them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a good source.
- Survey employees about whether they think the office lighting, noise level and temperature positively or negatively impact their energy level.
- Stock your breakroom with healthy snacks for when people need an energy boost.
- Work with higher-ups to create a designated space for relaxation where employees can take a break.
A proactive approach to safety lets employees know you care about their well-being. It also potentially protects your company from legal issues if an accident happens. Most importantly, a strategic approach to reducing injuries keeps your business’s most important assets — its workers — safe.