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General Office Safety

By: Norman Thomson - Updated: 1 Nov 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
General Office Safety

Every year, over 2 million people suffer an accident at work. What is perhaps surprising is that a large percentage of accidents relate to office work. Each year, around 20 people are killed in office-related accidents and many more are seriously injured. So what is it that makes the office such a hazardous place to work?

Well realistically, the office is not too hazardous – it is people that are the problem! Provided the office is kept tidy and free from obstructions, there is probably no great risk to employees. A few simple precautions can keep people safe in their office environment.

Simple Precautions

Firstly, the largest cause of accidents in the office is from slips, trips and falls. Clutter around desks and along corridors can cause people to trip and fall. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all communal areas, such as corridors, kitchens, photocopy stations, and stairways are kept free from obstruction. A once per week office inspection is a good idea, to ensure that housekeeping standards are well maintained.

Fatalities in office accidents are usually caused by falls down staircases. It is very easy to seriously injure yourself by tripping on a stair, with the potential to break a limb or have a nasty cut from landing heavily on a stair tread. One commonly used precaution in office buildings is the ‘hold the handrail’ rule. Often you will see signs posted around the building, advising people that handrails must be held when going up or down stairs. This means that any loose items should not be held in both hands, instead one hand should be kept free to hold the handrail. Another precaution when walking up or down stairs is to leave the mobile phone securely in a pocket or handbag. Temptation to use the phone while walking up or down stairs should be resisted at all times.

Back Injury

Back injury is another great concern with office workers. Lifting and carrying boxes of paper for the photocopier causes more back injuries at work than any other task. When lifting and carrying heavy items, it is important that proper manual handling techniques are used. Employers have a duty to provide such training if employees are expected to lift or move heavy loads. A load as light as 5kg can cause back injury if it is lifted incorrectly, especially when held at arms reach.

Fire Safety

Fire is an obvious hazard. Many people have been killed when they have been unable to exit from a building that is on fire. Thankfully, in the UK the laws regarding fire safety are very strict. Buildings have to be designed with fire evacuation in mind. Modern stairwells are capable of maintaining their integrity in fire and heat conditions for at least 30 minutes, long enough for people to escape to safety. However, in older buildings this might not be the case. It is therefore essential that good housekeeping standards are maintained. All exit routes should be kept free from obstruction, with no combustible material stored along the route. Fire doors should be kept closed at all times – not wedged open with fire extinguishers or wooden wedges. Final exit doors should never be blocked, from either the inside or from the outside.

By taking some simple precautions, and by carrying out regular inspections, safety within offices can be kept well controlled. By taking time to clear obstructions and to practice routine handrail holding, accidents in the office can be reduced significantly.

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Do you have a Health and Safety Officer? As they would be the best person to report this to, as they would have to log your complaint.
JohnnyR - 2-Nov-15 @ 2:24 PM
I have recently started at a company were I think the staff should have there flt lience taken of them , they are dangerous and a hazard to other employes . I have drive flt a for years and never witnessed such poor driving. I would like go know how to reports this company
Creasey - 1-Nov-15 @ 7:34 PM
@maz - if the floor is wet then the signs should be out as it is protection for your workplace against insurance claims, so you are correct in following this procedure. In order to refresh what you have been trained in, you can access the HSE leaflet on the subject here. I suggest you speak to your higher regarding the problem and he/she can take it up directly with your employer. I hope this helps.
WorkplaceSafetyAdvice - 5-Jun-15 @ 12:29 PM
hi there is work at a school and soften we have to cover each other's works also athe building I work at is very busy and people staying late I have been told to remove the wets floor signs when's I have finished my shift but often ther are still one or two people milling around...I have refused to do this as is goes against all my training for cosh am I right...they have told me to wash my floors earlier but this is not always possible and there are children towing and frowing inodont know what y rights are are but I think I should still leave the wet signs out when the floor is wet even though there sometimes won't be a one around but that's a very rare occasion....I'm confused
maz - 4-Jun-15 @ 8:09 PM
Dear Mr. Thompson, I am researching about safety in offices and liked your article very much. The statistics mentioned, are they global or only UK related? Many thanks.
Elza - 18-Apr-13 @ 8:33 AM
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