Last week, we discussed the need for warehouses to protect staff from all possible hazards; the obvious and not-so-obvious ones.
An ill workforce is an unproductive one; to avoid this we recommended a thorough professional clean on a regular basis.
But, a dirty environment isn’t the only hazard to watch out for.
Slips and falls are a leading cause of accidents at work; whether it’s in a warehouse or an office. The Trip potential triangle designed by the HSE outlines how to avoid this. But did you know that computers and even the loo are also potential hazards in the office?
Risk factors for trips include spilled contaminants on floors, walking surface irregularities and poor weather conditions. On the shop floor, hand rails and improved lighting can help reduce falls but inside the office, it’s a different story.
Most offices have one corner or shelf stuffed with clutter of some sort. These can provide a crushing injury if the pile ever topples over. But add the trailing cables from computers and other peripherals and you have another major hazard on your hands.
Offices can get around this by:
- Reduce crush hazard by properly storing files in the right shelves.
- Reduce trip hazards by making sure cords/cables don’t run across high traffic areas; no hazards over a quarter-inch high are allowed in high pedestrian travel zones.
- Running cables along walls and using cable wall clips or tape to hold them in place.
- Covering exposed cables with a carpet of some sort.
- Replacing buckled carpets
These are only some of the potential hazards in the office; others include:
AVOID ERGONOMIC ISSUES.
Our computers are supposed to make tasks faster and more efficient. But hunching over them is a leading cause of RSI and MSD among office staff. These conditions don’t develop all at once; they are a product of maintaining poor posture over time. By the time they are noticed and acknowledged, it’s often with much pain and discomfort.
Employers are legally obliged to provide employees with a workplace free of hazards. A risk assessment must be carried out to ensure that workers are adequately protected. Some of the ways the HSE recommends employees counter poor posture include:
- Standing up, every half hour and moving around,
- Tilting monitors to avoid neck strain from hunching down,
- Avoid remaining in one position for extended periods.
MISUSE OF PAINKILLERS.
As a result of long shifts, onset of RSD, workers are using more painkillers. The CDC ascribes over 20,000 deaths annually to painkiller overdose. As people feel more pain, they tend to pop ore and more.
This can lead to impairment and errors in judgement that can be potentially fatal, whether you’re a forklift driver at work or an office worker driving home. Employers can work with their staff to reduce dependence on painkillers by:
- Educating staff on the potential effects of long-term addiction to painkillers,
- Remind them of the company policy on drug misuse,
- Ensuring there are open lines of communication between supervisors and staff,
- Ensuring the right PPE is available to try and avoid accidents in the first place.
Fire risks abound everywhere. Chemicals, improperly sealed containers, poorly fitted fuses; can contribute to a fire spreading rapidly. On the shop floor, these hazards can be addressed by separating chemicals from sources of ignition, storing chemicals in tightly closed containers, prompt cleaning up of spills. Employers are also tasked to install sprinklers and regularly check fire-fighting equipment.
In the office, all sources of clutter and combustion such as loose files in stuffed cabinets and overflowing bins, must be cleaned up. Good housekeeping doesn’t only prevent disease, it can delay the spread of a fire too.
Have we missed any of the common hazards?
Be sure to let us know if you have experienced any of the hazards mentioned in both articles. SRL Limited urges you to take care of your staff; an ill workforce is an unproductive one.