The last thing on your mind as you sit in that cozy corner office, furiously typing those never-ending reports, is the work-related risk you are exposed to.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, truck driving, fishing, farming, and logging are some of the most unsafe jobs in existence today. Working in the great outdoors is fantastic, but the associated risks put off many a people.
Well, that is to be expected of blue collar jobs. If you want safety, get a white collar job, right? Wrong!
You might be safe from most fatal injuries, but you are very much exposed to a different set of workplace injuries. And no, we’re not talking about the angry office cat Stan who attacks you every morning.
Research shows that in 2016, 2.9 million non-fatal workplace accidents were reported. 892,270 of them resulted in days off work. Yes, common office injuries are rarely fatal, but the modern office has become one of the most hazardous places of our time.
For this reason, most workplaces now have a myriad of extensive safety measures to prevent office injuries. In this age where working long hours has become the norm, learning how to avoid office accidents can make the difference between getting hurt and going back home safe.
Here are 10 Common office injuries and tips on how to avoid them.
It comes as no surprise that 1/5 of all workplace accidents are falls. In fact, 18% of all reported non-fatal office injuries are slips and falls. These can be caused by a multitude of trip hazards like electronic wiring, random objects on the floor, or loose carpeting.
The scarier types of falls are those from a height – like a fall down the stairs or from an office ladder –which account for 7% of all reported non-fatal office injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that these kinds of falls often result in the most disabling injuries in offices.
You may not know it, but an office worker is 2.5 times more likely to experience a disabling injury from a fall than a non-office worker.
Lifting heavy objects with an incorrect posture can cause you untold misery due to neck and back pain, strains, or sprains. Incorrect body positioning in areas that require you to stretch and twist to fit can also be a cause of the injuries we’ve mentioned.
According to a published report, incorrect manual handling of heavy objects constitutes 33% of all non-fatal, work-related accidents. It is the main cause of working days lost over ill health.
Voltages as low as 50 volts can cause shock, and electric shock can cause muscle spasms and difficulty in breathing. If the voltage is high enough, it can cause a nasty burn or even death.
Working in an office means that you sit on your desk typing on a computer for hours on end. Having large office projects can make you to prolong your work hours in a bid to beat tight deadlines or impress your new supervisor. And while your desk does look like a very safe environment, this is not always the case.
There are office injuries that will sneak up on you when you least expect it. At first, you will only sense some numbness or tingling in your wrist or experience dull, intermittent pain. You might brush it off as general fatigue, but with time, this strain will do a number on your musculoskeletal system.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), estimates that over 34% of working days are lost because of illnesses and injuries that result in musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Another study showed that 24 to 44% of office workers will suffer from these injuries if they are exposed to its triggers in a period of one year or less. MSDs will affect your nerves, muscles, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons, causing conditions like tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or trigger finger.
Overuse of a specific group of muscles, through repeated bodily movements, can cause an injury known as repetitive stress injury (RSI). Most office tasks require continuous repetition of particular motions to fulfill the duties assigned.
The minor, dull aches may be subtle in the beginning, but will result in severe problems if left unattended. You should act on repetitive stress injury as soon as you detect it to give yourself a better chance of quick recovery.
Continually staring at your computer screen for hours on end will not only cause stress to your eyes, it will eventually cause long-term damage. Poor office lighting can also damage your eyesight and cause migraines and headaches. It can also be the cause of accidents because you are unable to clearly see what’s ahead.
Injuries caused by dangerous chemicals in the office are quite common. These substances can be inhaled, splashed onto the eyes or skin, or ingested. Caustic substances such as glue, bleach, or acids can cause poisoning, headaches, rashes, burns, disorders of the body, or congenital disabilities, sometimes resulting in fatalities.
Since you are always seated in the office, chances are there are many items placed at a higher level, directly above you. These objects can hit your head at any moment if they slide or get out of position. Things may fall off shelves, cupboards, and signs or decorations suspended from the ceiling may become loose and hit you. They can cause you serious physical injury.
The number of employees who have collided with each other, a shelf, or a blind cabinet are innumerable. To avoid these sharp, mind-numbing injuries and swollen foreheads, use convex mirrors at intersections and close all drawers that are not in use. Also, remember that nothing can replace focus and attention when walking around the office.
All office workers appreciate a nice warm cup of coffee, so much so that you cannot separate coffee from office folk – it’s like the two go hand in hand. Well, you also can’t separate hot liquids from nasty scalds and burns.
Getting your fingers stuck in drawers, paper cutters, windows and other office equipment is very common. Avoid these by staying alert, and always pay close attention to your tasks.
And yes, stapling has wounded many an office worker, although most adults are a bit embarrassed to admit it. Do not staple papers while scatterbrained. It is a staple for disaster 🙂
One of the most common office hazards is noise. In a regular office, there is continuous noise from electronic equipment – which may translate to irritable employees. Office workers are at risk of hearing loss if they are exposed to noise levels above 75 decibels for a long period of time.
There you have it! We’ve explained in detail the 10 common office injuries and told you exactly how to avoid them. We want to ensure you stay safe as you work. Have any question to ask? Don’t hesitate to, it’s what we’re here for.