Employee Wellness: 4 Office Health Hazards to Avoid

You may think working in a comfy office is safe and hazard-free, but health & safety risks are all around you. If you’re sitting in front of a computer for most of your shift, you are at risk of developing back pain & injury. Slips and falls can also happen when you go to the bathroom or hang out in the office pantry. And, of course, let’s not forget about the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you’re a team leader or an HR officer, here are some of the most common office health hazards you should help prevent to keep your employees safe & healthy.

  • Slips, Falls, and Trips

What are the common culprits for slips, falls, and trips? Wet floors, exposed cords, unattended spills, loose rugs, and uneven floors—all can be found in an office.

Make sure your cleaning & maintenance team is always on top of spills and wet floors. They should clean them up immediately and post signs that notify the employees that the area is being or has been cleaned and, therefore, is wet. During inclement weather conditions, ask your maintenance team to place non-slip mats on entry & exit areas, walkways, ramps, and exterior steps to avoid slips & falls.

Encourage your employees to be accountable for their workstations. They should keep their electrical & computer cords secured—and not stretched across the nearest aisles or walkways. Also, conduct regular checks for slip, fall, and trip hazards. Check for loose rugs or carpets, exposed cords, and uneven surfaces.

  • Office fires

With many computers, devices, and appliances, offices are at risk of fires. Here are some tips to prevent a costly and damaging fire in your workplace:

  • Inspect power cords for wear-and-tear regularly. Replace them if they have exposed or frayed wire.
  • Inspect extension cords to prevent improper use & overloading. Extension cords should be used only temporarily to connect one device at once.
  • Use only commercial-grade space heaters and other appliances.
  • Don’t forget to schedule office equipment maintenance, including HVAC routine cleaning & servicing, printer repairs, and IT hardware maintenance.
  • Do regular inspections of fire-sprinkler heads and other fire prevention tools.
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Also, you must train your employees on what to do if a fire occurs. They should know how to use the fire extinguisher and where the emergency exit routes are. 

  • Ergonomic injuries

Office employees usually spend six to eight hours a day seated in front of a computer. That can cause eye strains, back pain, and injuries related to repetitive movement and poor posture. One thing to prevent that is by providing ergonomic and adjustable desks, chairs, and keyboards. Such equipment can accommodate the widest range of work styles, allowing employees to find the best sitting position.

It also helps if you conduct regular training or refreshers on ergonomic guidelines. You can even have posters of these guidelines around the office. That way, your team will be reminded of the effects of poor posture and repetitive movements. 

  • Occupational asthma & allergies

Employees stay in the office for almost a third of their day, so it’s crucial that the environment is healthy and safe. As you inspect the office for hazards, don’t forget the indoor air quality. Poor ventilation and too much dust can cause occupational asthma & allergies. The cubicle design can block off a healthy airflow, while water damage can lead to mold growth that can cause respiratory illnesses. 

You can help boost your office’s indoor air quality by conducting proper and regular HVAC maintenance, as well as cleaning & filtration of the ventilation. If your office has carpets, have them regularly cleaned, too, as they can trap dust and dirt over time. Also, include water damage & mold inspection in your building checks.

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