Most office accidents result from slip, trips and fall, lifting objects, punctures or cuts and being caught in or between things.
Slips are caused by slippery floors, uncleaned spillages or gripless shoes.
Trips occur over objects lying on the ground or jutting out into aisles or because of poorly maintained floor surfaces. Falls can be from ladders or from standing on chairs to reach an object.
Many of these accidents can be avoided by simple planning and good housekeeping.
- Traffic ways and aisles should be well lit, and be kept clear of material, equipment, rubbish and electric leads,
- Floor should be level and the use of mats discouraged. Spilled liquids and anything else dropped on the floor should be immediately picked up or cleaned,
- Free standing fittings should be completely stable or secured to the wall or floor. Filing cabinets should be placed so that they do not open in to aisles and should never be left with cabinets drawers open. For stability load cabinets starting from the bottom and do not open more than one drawer at a time,
- Office machine and equipment should be kept in good working order. Equipment using hand-fed process such as electric staplers and paper guillotines should be guarded and staff trained in their proper use,
- Many pieces of equipment using electricity can mean trailing cables, overloaded circuits, broken plugs and sockets. Ensure that these dangers are seen to by qualified personnel.
Manual handling is a term used to describe everyday type activities such
as carrying, stacking, pushing, pulling, rolling, sliding, lifting or lowering loads.
For office workers this can include task such as moving boxes of stores, filing, setting equipment from cupboards and filling the photocopying machine with paper.
A common office hazard is the manual movement of loads leading to back injuries and pain in hand, wrist and neck. To reduce the likelihood of these types of accidents the requirements are;
- Remove the need for manual handling that could be the cause of injury,
- Identify those tasks where manual handling cannot be avoided and assess the risk of injury,
- Reduce the risk of injury by rearranging the work being done (e.g. have paper delivered to photocopier by hand truck rather than manually carrying it from stores, reduce weight to be lifted, etc.)
- Provided manual handling training to workers who need it (messengers, service attendants etc.) and give them information on the weights being lifted and how to plan a lift.
If cabinets, desks or other heavy office equipment have to be moved, do take particular precautions which would include providing hand truck or trollies and using team lifting. More details, please refer to Guidelines on Manual Handling.
Equipment used in the office (e.g. paper shredders, photocopiers, faxmachines, printing machines) should be used in accordance with suppliers instructions and should be kept in good condition at all time, be repaired or serviced by qualified persons and any defects reported to the office manager. Passenger lift should be thoroughly examined on a regular basis by a competent person as required by the Factories and Machinery (Electric Passenger and Goods Lift) Regulations 1970. Ensure any contract maintenance staff using/operating office equipment are given the same health and safety protection as regular office workers.
Small quantities of chemical are used in the office and include printing inks, photocopier toners, cleaning chemicals and correction fluids. Ensure office workers are aware of their hazards. These hazards together with the appropriate safeguards are normally detailed in the material safety data sheets (available from supplier). Keep these sheet up-to-date and keep them in a location where workers can consult them easily.
The type of emergencies that could occur in the office include fires, gas leaks and lift failure. To ensure an orderly evacuation from the office an emergency plan should be prepared and tested on a regular basis. The plan should cover fire drills/safe evacuation, how to shut off machine and leave the workplace safe, name persons who are responsible for the evacuation and calling the emergency services, and detail the assembly areas. The emergency plan can be part of a safe work procedure.
Workplace stress is of increasing concern in offices and is still poorly understood. Stress arises when the demands on the worker exceed the capacity to cope. Stressful situations should be identified in the office and safeguards must be implemented at organisational level to minimise the risk. This might means making changes in the organisation of the work.
A number of office workers have been killed going to and coming from the office by car, lorries and other vehicles in the office car park. Make sure walkways in car park are suitably lit and there is safe means for pedestrians and vehicles to circulate.
Source: Guidelines On Occupational Safety And Health In The Office
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