Compared to the hazards faced by employees in different workplaces, such as factories, chemical plants, and offshore work, office safety seems like a trivial issue. I thought the same thing when I switched jobs from offshore support to office work. What possible injuries could there be in an office setting? There are more than you’d expect. As a safety coordinator in high-rise buildings, I’ve responded to a variety of injuries and illnesses. I’ll go over some of the top injuries and illnesses to highlight the importance of office safety.
Injuries from Slips, Trips, and Falls
The most common causes of injury I’ve encountered are slips, trips, and falls. Simply walking in a hazardous atmosphere without being aware of your surroundings can lead to injury. In an office setting, the hazardous atmosphere may be slippery floors from rain or mopping or uneven surfaces. I’ve responded to incidents ranging from falls from tripping on the expansion crack on a sidewalk to falls from stepping onto a slippery floor in high-heeled shoes after rain, to falls from ignoring wet floor signs. Employee error in not recognizing the hazards or employees just ignoring the hazards was the root cause found in most of these cases. Employees must be aware of their surroundings and the hazards they face at all times, even in an office setting.
Another cause of injuries faced in office settings is personal illness. This is the second most common issue I’ve encountered in the office. Employees should not start new medication that may cause dizziness while at work. Personnel with seizure disorders face a daily struggle. If you have a seizure disorder, let someone close to you at work know about it. Most larger office buildings have a safety coordinator, so if you have a medical issue worth sharing to possibly prevent injury, let the safety coordinator know. Another injury I have addressed in the office is employees who faint after donating blood. Always give yourself time after giving blood so that you don’t faint in the hallway, hitting the hard floor.
Responding to Injuries and Illnesses
Every office should have procedures to follow for responding to injuries and illnesses. Employees should be trained on these procedures. This training includes information on how to summon emergency services, how to direct emergency services to the location of the injury or illness, and basic first aid and response. Each office building should also have employees trained in first aid/CPR. On that note, if you aren’t able to handle the sight of blood, do not volunteer for first aid/CPR training. Fainting during training or during the actual emergency response can lead to further injury.
The bottom line is you face injuries and illnesses in many settings, even in office workplaces. Be aware of your changing surroundings and take appropriate caution. Don’t be fooled by a false sense of security, and remember the importance of office safety.