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5 Tips to Prevent the Most Common Office Accidents editorial staff, writer
Dec 20, 2012
Image Credit: Monkeybusinessimages / Getty Images
> Human Resources

Let's face it. Working in an office is pretty safe. If your workers stay behind a computer or glued to a telephone, there isn't a lot of opportunity for disabling injuries. Nevertheless, day after day office accidents happen, office workers lose days to workplace injuries and employers find themselves with higher worker's compensation premiums because of it.

Falls are far and away the most common office accident. Further, according to the Department of Commerce, an office fall is more than twice as likely to cause a disabling injury as falls elsewhere. Keep your workforce safe and worker's compensation premiums affordable with these basic precautions against fall injuries.

Watch where you're going.

It seems like a no-brainer to watch your step while moving through the office. Still, how many times has an engaging conversation grasped your attention just well enough to send you stumbling over a curb? How many times have you tripped over an officemate's chair while reading a memo fresh off the printer?

When you walk, be mindful of your path and things that may be in it. Make sure a bulky load doesn't obscure your view, and make sure all areas of the office are adequately lit. Sight is a much safer way to identify trip hazards than stumbling over them haphazardly.

Only use a ladder as a ladder.

In an office - especially if you aren't that tall - some things are out of reach. Your office chair, however, is almost never one of those things. You don't have to walk across the office. You don't have to ask someone to unlock a supply closet.

The problem is that your office chair is not a ladder. Neither is a shelf. Neither is a stack of boxes. Neither is your desk. It is never safe to use things that are not ladders as though they were. Take time to find the ladder so you don't lose time to injury.

Close drawers you aren't using.

You might be in the middle of a project where it's easier to leave the bottom drawer open while you shuttle between the file cabinet and your desk. The problem is another person may try to walk where that drawer is and trip.

With the rise of digital data, filing cabinets are slowly disappearing from many offices. But as long as filing cabinets exist, their drawers present a hazard to workers. Never leave them open.

Sit in your office chair properly.

In an office environment, so much work happens while sitting, your office chair starts to feel like an extension of your person. You might bend, stretch and twist your body into contortions to reach things pens, pencils or coffee without ever lifting your bottom from its seat.

Stop that. An office chair can become unstable very quickly when its occupant isn't sitting properly. Keep your feet on the floor, sit up straight and get up if you can't easily reach something.

Your mom doesn't work here.

Housekeeping is about more than keeping things looking nice. It is also about keeping the workplace safe. Don't leave things lying around on the ground, and clean up messes - especially liquid spills - right away.

Find a solution to electrical cords that stretch over walkways. If floor coverings are loose or hazardous see to remedying the situation as quickly as possible. A little respect for the workplace can mean a lot in terms of safety.

Falls are the second most deadly type of workplace accident after motor-vehicle accidents, claiming 666 workers over 2011. While accidents in an office are less likely to claim lives, they still have a profound impact on your workforce and your bottom line. Mindfulness of hazards and awareness of how to avoid them can go far to protect your workers and you.

Photo credit:

Caleb Kimpel, is a researcher and technical writer for Safety Services Company, North America's largest provider of safety training materials. You can reach him at:

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