Home » Common Office Injuries and How to Prevent Them
Preventing Common Office Injuries
The 2016 CIPD Absence Management survey found that the average employee takes 6.3 sick days each year, costing businesses around £522 per person. However, most of these are easy to prevent providing that you have basic health and safety procedures in place. Even relatively safe environments, such as an office, can present dangers and must have appropriate procedures. What do you think the most common office injuries are? Use our guide to learn more about common accidents and how to prevent them.
Tripping Over Loose Carpet, Objects or Wires
In 2015/16, slips, trips and falls accounted for almost 1/5 of all workplace accidents (source: HSE). In an office environment, there is the potential to trip on a loose carpet, electrical wiring, objects that have been left lying around and drawers that have been left open, just to name a few. To prevent trips in the office ensure you have a strict tidying up policy; encourage staff to put things away after using them, keep walkways clear and store items correctly. Keep all electrical cables tied up and away from where people are walking. If wires do need to be in the walkway then ensure that you use striped hazard tape to alert workers to the risk of tripping.
Did you know? In 2016, 621,000 injuries occurred in British workplaces.
Slipping on a Wet Floor
Slips can be caused by any manner of things, including water, oil and spilt tea as well as shiny floor surfaces and slippery shoes. However, slips in your workplace can easily be prevented!
To prevent slips in your office, make good use of safety signs when the floor has recently been cleaned, something has been spilt or it is wet outside. It’s also a good idea to instil a ‘clean-as-you-go’ policy to make sure that employees clean up anything they spill straight away – it’s often the negligence in situations like this that causes accidents. Check out: Slips, Trips and Falls Quiz.
Did you know? In 2016, 30.4 million working days were lost as a result of injury or illness.
Falling When Standing on a Chair
Falls from height can cause severe injury and, even in an office environment, are all too common. The most common workplace accident regarding falls is caused by people standing on chairs in order to reach things. This is a dangerous practice as chairs are unstable and unsuitable for tasks such as this.
To prevent falls, always use a proper ladder or stepladder when accessing high up locations. Maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder at all times (ie 2 feet and 1 hand) and never over-reach as this could cause you to topple over.
Did you know? Falls from height were responsible for 26% of workplace deaths in 2015/16.
Poor office lighting can lead to a myriad of health issues, including vision problems, headaches and trip accidents. Workers may have to strain their eyes in order to read and see what they are doing which can lead to headaches and long-term problems with their sight. Poor visibility also means that workers are more likely to trip over objects that they haven’t seen.
The problem of inadequate lighting can easily be solved. Ensure your office is well lit by providing main lighting as well as task lighting above each workstation. Provide anti-glare computer screens where possible to prevent lights reflecting from the screen and into people’s eyes and, if the natural light from outside is too bright, install blinds or tinted glass. It’s also a good idea to encourage workers to have their eyes tested every year or 2 years to check that they have not developed visual problems
Did you know? Studies have shown that giving workers in an open-plan office their own individual lighting can increase job satisfaction.
Aches and pains caused by little consideration of office ergonomics are very common, and led to half a million workers suffering from musculoskeletal disorders in 2015/16 (source: HSE). This might be due to an unsuitable desk layout, an uncomfortable chair or from bending and reaching which forces your body into awkward positions.
To prevent ill-health from office ergonomics ensure that you pay particular attention to people’s workspaces and display screen equipment. Provide a footrest to support legs and a chair with an adjustable height and back so that people can sit comfortably. Desks should be at an appropriate height with a keyboard and mouse that are at a level where the employee is not required to lean or stretch. Similarly, computer screens should be positioned so that workers do not have to crane their neck or hunch forwards to use them. Check out: Do You Know How to Set Up A Desk Ergonomically?
Did you know? The industries that report the most musculoskeletal disorders are agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction, transportation and storage, and health and social work.
Back Pain From Lifting Objects
Incorrect manual handling can cause back and neck pain, sprains and strains. Injury is most likely to be caused when employees are pushing, pulling or lifting objects that are too heavy, with incorrect posture or in areas that make manoeuvring difficult and require you to twist and stretch. Of all the working days lost over the course of a year due to ill health, lost days because of handling, lifting or carrying are the most frequent, yet it is a problem that is all too easy to solve.
To prevent injury from manual handling, ensure that all workers are educated in the correct manual handling procedures so they know not to attempt to move loads that are too big, heavy or awkward. Remind people to use mechanical aids where necessary, break the load down into smaller loads or ask a colleague for help with the task.
Did you know? Musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 34% of all lost working days in 2016.
Objects Falling on You
Objects falling from height may include items falling off shelves, out of cupboards or from other high up places, such as signs or decorations suspended from the ceiling. Having an object fall and strike you can cause serious physical injury, especially in an office environment where you’re unlikely to be wearing protective clothing to protect yourself from hazards.
Preventing falling objects in the office is simple – merely teach employees how to store things safely. Ensure that cupboards and shelves are not overloaded and that the heaviest things are stored lower down so that they are less likely to fall and cause injury. If you have signs or decorations suspended from the ceiling, make sure that they are securely fastened.
Did you know? In the food and drink industry, 10% of all major injuries are due to being struck by something sharp or from something falling.
Electrical injuries can be caused by all voltages – even a voltage as low as 50 volts can cause an electric shock resulting in muscle spasms and difficulty breathing. In an office you may have an electrical accident if equipment isn’t wired properly, equipment is damaged or live wires are left exposed.
To prevent injury from electricity ensure that all equipment and wiring are in perfect condition. Regularly check equipment for faults and dispose of anything that is faulty, damaged or no longer works. All electrical equipment should have a PAT sticker to show that it has been tested for electrical safety. Check out: Electrical Hazards in the Workplace: Office Electrical Safety.
Did you know? Even if an electric shock isn’t fatal, it can still cause severe injury, often because the shock then leads to a fall.
- Guidance for First Aid Kits in the Workplace
- What Should Be Included In Your Workplace First Aid Box?
- How to Identify Ergonomic Hazards at Work
- Office Health and Safety Training
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Louise uses her 4+ years of technical writing experience to write specialist articles on a range of health and safety, business skills and safeguarding people topics. Louise has a degree in English Language and enjoys pursuing a range of creative outlets, from writing and editing to baking, cooking and sewing.