Office Ergonomics & Health
At your desk,
- Use good posture. Sit up straight, feet on the floor; if you’re using a keyboard, keep your wrists straight.
- Keep files, drawers, and cabinets clean, organized, and closed to prevent spilled material and tripping.
- Store heavy supplies on lower drawers or at ground level, and secure items in cabinets that close securely.
- Don’t eat or drink at your computer, as crumbs or spills might cause serious malfunctions to the equipment.
- Secure sharp objects (cutting knives, scissors, paper cutter blades) when not in use; never leave these misplaced and unattended.
- Walk, don’t run.
- Look where you’re going; you’ll have time to read later.
- Watch for spills on the floor or other obstacles, and take the initiative to clean them or ensure that they’re cleaned.
- Ensure that exits are clear and easily accessible.
- Opt for the elevator when carrying heavy loads.
- Use the handrail on the stairs.
Obey and enforce the non-smoking rules.
Uphold good housekeeping; schedule regular office cleaning and set up caution signs during rainy or snowy days.
Provide effective, bright lighting, for both the interior and exterior spaces (including stairwells, parking lots); use motion sensors to save energy and alert for intruders.
Ensure that there is a first-aid kit to treat potential injuries. Invest on a HR training program for your employees and supervisors.
Live healthfully in the workplace:
- Stay hydrated.
- Don’t skip lunch; make sure you get your nutrients and minerals.
- Limit machine fumes with ventilation or distance.
- If your job is sedentary, be sure to take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch.
Know the diseases, allergies, or conditions of co-workers, and learn how to help them in case of emergencies.
Share your own needs and explain whatever assistance or medication you would need in case of an emergency.
Minimize headache and fatigue by following these office safety tips:
- Providing enough ventilation
- Blocking exterior pollution (traffic pollution, etc.) and interior fumes (exhaust from printing machines, etc.)
- Adjusting lighting (not too bright and not too dim)
- Reducing glare (dull paint finishes, indirect lighting)
- Muffling noise (carpeting, curtains, insulation, reduced volume for telephone ringers and beeping equipment)
Watch for Potential Danger
Fix or report torn carpeting, loose floorboards or tiles, or otherwise unstable surfaces.
Fix or report broken furniture, burnt-out light-bulbs or other appliances, and other defective equipment.
Look out for frayed, torn, or otherwise damaged electrical cords, cables, etc.
- Keep floors and walkways clear of cords; coil excess cables or use cable ties to keep them out of the way.
Remove obstructions in walkways and (especially) exits.
- Safety signs and exit signs should be clearly marked and easily seen.
Never touch electrical switches, outlets, or plugs with wet hands.
Fix or report fire hazards; check the sprinkler system, renew batteries for smoke detectors, have fire extinguishers on-hand.
- Use flame-retardant materials.
- Label and safely store all combustible items and fluids.
Prepare for Emergencies
Know the specific evacuation plans and guidelines—especially for natural disasters or conditions (fires, earthquakes, floods, tornados, etc.) that are typical or probable in your area.
- Weather shelters (i.e. for tornados) must be properly equipped, clean, of easy access, and large enough to accommodate everyone.
Practice regular drills for each type specific emergency.
Be familiar with all emergency exits and how to access them.
Ensure your office has marshals, fire guards, or security personnel for times of need.
Create strategies in case of more common and universal issues: power outages, network failures, etc.
—- Office Safety Tips: Sources —-
(2) HIGH-RISE BUILDING FIRES, page ii by nfpa.org
(3) Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors, page xi by cdc.gov
(4) An Office Building Occupants Guide to Indoor Air Quality by epa.gov
(5) Electricity Case: Statistical Analysis of Electric Power Outages, page 1 by create.usc.edu