Being aware of hazards in the workplace and learning office safety tips goes a long way toward preventing accidents.
Basic Office Safety Tips
Slips and falls are the most frequent cause of injuries in the workplace, and people working in an office are twice as likely to be injured by falling than people who are working in other types of workplaces. Keeping alert and thinking ahead can help minimize the risk.
Some Common Sense
Use basic common sense in your daily comportment around the office. That means:
- Sit upright in your chair, with your feet touching the floor when you're working at your desk. Before sitting down, look to make sure your chair is beneath you and hasn't rolled away.
- Look where you're going whenever you're walking around the office.
- If you've got to carry anything from one place to another, don't stack things up so high that you can't see directly in front of you.
- Walk, don't run.
- Go slowly if the floor is wet or otherwise slippery.
- Don't read while walking.
- Always hold the handrail when using stairs.
- When carrying boxes, use the elevator if available.
- Only open one drawer in a filing cabinet at a time to keep it from tipping over.
- Close desk or file cabinet drawers before walking away so others don't walk into them.
- Store supplies inside of cabinets or bookcases, and place heavier items in the lower drawers or shelves.
- Immediately wipe up spilled beverages, water tracked in by wet shoes or drippings from umbrellas. Ask a custodian to do the cleaning if you don't have time to do it yourself.
- Obey your building's (no) smoking rules, and don't throw matches, ashes or cigarette butts into regular trash.
- Keep the floors and aisles clear of electrical cords. Use surge protectors and cable ties to manage the wiring.
- Refrain from eating or drinking at a computer station. Spills and crumbs could get into the keyboard and cause malfunctions.
- Don't touch electrical outlets, plugs nor switches with wet hands.
Anytime you see something unsafe, report it to your facilities management department or supervisor. Things you might want to point out include sightings of:
- Torn carpet
- Loose tiles
- Wobbly steps or floorboards
- Burned-out lightbulbs
- Broken chairs or desks
- Other defective equipment
- Stray electrical cables or obstructions of walkways
- Possible unauthorized visitors
Emergencies can happen, and being prepared for them ahead of time is vital. Here's just a selection of things that can better prepare you for an emergency:
- Have a plan for evacuating the building in the event of a fire or other disaster.
- Know where the nearest emergency exit is along with other locations on your floor.
- Make sure your office has fire guards or marshals designated on each floor or section to provide direction in the event of an evacuation.
- Practice with fire drills at least once a year, if not more frequently.
- For evacuations during natural disasters, especially fires, take the stairs instead of an elevator.
- Move away from windows during a tornado or other type of windstorm.
- Create specific plans for earthquakes if your office is situated near a fault line.
- Similarly, create specific strategies to deal with possible power outages and computer network failures.
The safest workplaces are ones in which every single employee knows office safety tips. If your employer doesn't have a program in place for educating staff about workplace safety, you might want to ask your human resources department or boss about the feasibility of creating one. Your company could hire a consultant to help implement such policies, or consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health website.
A safe office benefits employers and employees alike. Companies can save money on insurance and workers compensation claims, while also maintaining good morale and productivity among the staff. Workers save money on health care costs and are happier and more productive in safe office environments.