Baehman Law

Little known dangers of office work

The office environment isn’t exactly considered a very dangerous place. When you think of potentially high-risk job sites, you might better imagine a construction zone. In the office, you clock in, find your desk and get to work on your phone or computer. What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out, a lot.

According to a 2017 report by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were roughly “2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers.” This means that a number of employees working in fields like manufacturing, hospitals, offices and administrative assistance suffered injuries. A very large number.

What are some examples of workplace injuries and hazards?

There are some obvious examples—slip and fall, malfunctioning elevator, etc. But here are some examples of some lesser-known workplace injuries and hazards, some more serious than others:

  • Lifting: When lifting anything, do it correctly. Squat and use your core and legs. Even if the load is light, if you lift anything incorrectly you risk injuries to your neck, back and shoulders.
  • Distraction: Office workers commonly report injuries involving bumping into or tripping over objects such as open drawers, ill-placed cords, and other objects.
  • Ergonomics: Sitting the wrong way in your chair and at your desk can result in long-lasting problems with your hips and back.
  • Germs: Surprisingly (or not), your computer keyboard contains much more bacteria than the bathroom toilet seat. This is because cleaning your desk’s personal items is not the custodian’s job. That’s your job.
  • Stress: Stress doesn’t just ruin your day, it can end your life. Multiple stressors throughout your work week can result in high blood pressure and heart attack.

What does a safer workplace look like?

There are a number of steps you and your workplace can—and should—take to facilitate a safer office environment. Some of these include:

  • Ditch the clutter: Avoid slip-and-fall injuries (the most common workplace injury) by clearing out unnecessary obstructions from your work environment.
  • Save yourself: Carpal Tunnel surgery is the second-most common performed in the U.S. Correct use of ergonomics (and keyboard/mouse placement) are preventative and essential.
  • Practice fire safety: Cords and other electronics should be in safe condition. Escape routes should always be clear. This is common sense, but mistakes happen.

Employee safety in the workplace should be priority number one, trumping productivity and anything else. Many reported injuries were totally preventable, had the right working conditions been in place. If you feel unsafe or in danger at your workplace, speak up. Your wellbeing is an inalienable right.

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