Thursday, May 21, 2009

Non-print equipment & services: Safety & health in the “Office” work environment

What are some of the hazards we encounter in offices?
  • Ergonomic issues
  • Fire & evacuation
  • Electrical cords & equipment
  • Heat-generating sources
  • Hand & powered tools & equipment
  • Office machines (copiers, paper cutters, shredders, jammed machines)
  • Office chemicals
  • Slips, trips, falls
  • Housekeeping
  • Furniture/layout
  • Motor vehicle accidents

Slips, trips & falls

  • The #1 cause of office employee injuries!
    Occurring on level surfaces, elevated surfaces – standing on chairs, falling out of chairs, falling down stairs, manufacturing areas, parking lots
  • Awareness
  • Keep aisles clear
  • “Walk like a duck” on slippery surfaces – take care
  • Use the handrails on stairs
  • Report deficient conditions to facilities maintenance
  • Hold onto chair seats/arms when attempting to sit
  • Approved step stools & ladders only
  • “Sensible shoes”
  • Wipe up spills
  • Walk, don’t run


  • Emergency exits and passageways established and must be maintained
  • Furniture and equipment arranged, so far as possible, to:
    • avoid chairs and equipment jutting into walkways
    • avoid drawers from opening into walkways or doorways
    • obstruct the view around corners or partitions


  • Areas that are not lit adequately, or are lit too much, can cause headache, strain, and fatigue
  • Color plays a big role in eye fatigue
  • Use adjustable task lighting for tasks that require greater illumination
  • Take visual “breaks” every 30 minutes
  • Get regular eye exams…let your eye doc know if you are working at a computer!


  • Storage or placement of objects in aisles, below knee level or on other “office-type” floor surfaces
  • Overflowing, heavy wastebaskets
  • Dust accumulations
  • Maintaining condition of office equipment and work area
  • Orderly arrangement in all areas, especially storage
  • Storage must be 18” or more blow sprinkler heads

Furniture safety

  • Chairs should remain squarely on floor
  • Casters on all chairs should be secured and all parts of the chair should be sturdy and not present a hazard to the user
  • Close drawer s when not in use
  • Open drawers slowly and carefully
  • Avoid overloading filing cabinets, and distribute the weight of materials stored in cabinet to avoid tipping
  • Furniture should be selected and maintained without sharp edges, points, or burrs

Good workstation set-up is based on individual needs.But there are some general principles that can be taken into account…Rule #1: If you are uncomfortable, seek assistance!

Considerations in setting up a computer work station

  • How will the computer be used? How long?
  • What kind of computer?
  • What furniture will be used?
  • What chair will be used?
  • What can you see?
  • Posture!
  • Where will the computer be used?
  • Take breaks
  • Ergo. Gizmos – chair riser, keyboard brace

Good posture is essential to your health and safety!

  • 3 natural curves
  • Seated posture puts lots of strain on your body!
  • Exaggerated curves are bad
  • Stretch frequently
  • Maintain or build strength

Easy reach

  • Items to think about moving into the “easy reach” zone…
    o keyboard
    o mouse
    o telephone
    § could have a headset
    o calculator
  • Avoid over stretching to reach items


  • Some adjustments to check out…
    o Seat height, depth, angle/tilt
    o Back height, adjustability and angle/tilt
    o Lumbar support
    o Arm rest height – is it appropriate?
    o Swivel
  • Another pair of eyes. Does someone else think you’re sat safe and comfortable?

Your health &safety requires stretching/exercise “breaks”!

  • Two types:
    o Aerobic exercise
    o Micro breaks
    § Micro breaks: short breaks to relax, restore, re-nourish, gently stretch

Material handling

  • No lifting over 35 pounds on an occasional basis
    o Obtain assistance when necessary
  • Avoid lifting objects that are too heavy for you!
  • Plan the lift
  • Stand with your feet apart, alongside the object to be lifted
  • Use the “sit down” position, maintaining the natural arch of the spine
  • Tuck your chin
  • Get a good grip on the object
  • Keep the object close
  • Center the weight over your feet

Office equipment safeguarding

  • Copiers (sorting trays, moving parts)
  • Paper Cutter guarding to avoid contact with the cutting blade by the opposing hand (hand holding the blade)
  • When cutters are not in use, cutter should be down and the blade secured
  • Storage of letter openers and sharp tools (i.e. Exacto knives, scissors, etc.) should be appropriate to avoid tools rolling and falling off of desk surfaces
  • Use sheaths for knives and razors
  • Avoid twisting

11% of injuries = “struck by or between”

  • Struck by or between what?
    o Doors
    o Office machines & equipment dropped on feet
    o Falling objects (from tables, cabinets & storage locations)
    o Copy machines
    o “Addressing” machines and fans
    o Paper cutters

In accordance with Lockout/Tagout policy and procedures…

  • Office equipment has the potential to cause harm & is included in the Lockout/Tagout program
  • In order to clear a jam of electrically-powered office equipment, power must be turned “off” and disconnected from the power supply
  • Copiers that become jammed should be cleared in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions
    o Know the procedure for safely clearing jams
    o Remain cognizant of areas which may be hot

Electrical safety

  • Shut off electrical equipment not in use!
  • Properly equipped with guarding prongs.
  • Electrical cords should be visually inspected on a periodic basis to identify frayed and worn cords
  • Maintain electrical cords in areas out of walkways and passageways
  • Avoid extension cords in office areas
  • Surge protectors may not be overloaded and may not be used as an “extension cord” for other office equipment
  • Don’t overload outlets and surge protectors!
  • Combustible material, such as paper, may not be stored on or in close proximity to electrical outlets and connections
    o Remember that power is still connected!

Heat generating equipment

  • Coffee pot
  • Toaster oven
  • Microwave
  • Mug warmer
  • Heaters
  • Cooling fans
  • Soldering iron
  • Heat gun
  • Other electrical stuff
  • Ensure 18” or more of clearance from other combustibles
  • UL listed (Underwriters Laboratory)
  • Grounding prongs
  • Plug into outlet directly
  • Heaters need tip-over protection
  • Shut it off!

Chemical safety

  • What chemicals do we use in the office?
  • Read the label & hazard warnings
  • Read the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)
  • Handle and store the material properly, in accordance with the MSDS

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