OK, all of your people work in offices, so safety’s a snap, right? Well, according to our friends at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (seriously, the BLS is one of greatest public resources our tax dollars pay for every year), well over 80,000 of our fellow Americans are injured annually in offices. Health + Safety recently published “Recognizing hidden dangers: 25 steps to a safer office”. Offices may well be all the more dangerous because they seem so familiar and unthreatening. Most of us have a certain instinctive and healthy fear around large pieces of noisy machinery, but filing cabinets? (See #5 on the list – the attack of the open file drawer.)
If you have lots of employees in offices, read the whole list. Are your safety people actively promoting the ideas listed? For example, are your people jacking their chairs up too high to reach keyboard trays (see # 9)? This is a nice way to promote more lower back problems for comp and group health both. What about lighting? Items 11 through 14 explain all the ways in which not thinking about or checking lighting in an office can lead to vision and other problems. Don’t forget, by the way, that older employees need more light. The normal human lens loses about 30% of its transparency by age 60. Individual workstation, employee controlled lighting can be a serious eye-saver.
Our favorite? Check out # 19 – fun and games with space heaters. A space heater can be a lifesaver for an employee with poor circulation when used correctly but it can also lead to serious injuries and fires. All this in the comfort of your office.
And don’t forget that many of these same best practice tips also apply to the retail environment. A poorly lit, poorly maintained stockroom, for example, can generate the slip, trip, and fall claim from hell before you know it. We all need reminders from time to time not to take safety for granted. We like to believe the world is benign. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” says the arch-cynic, Hemingway.