Many people think that working in an office is safe. It usually is compared to many other job sites, but there are also hazards present in an office environment. Because it is considered safe, there can often be a feeling of complacency in regards to safety.
One of the most obvious office hazards is improper workstation set-up. Improper configuration of a workstation may result in an injury. These injuries are usually soft tissue injuries that take a long time to develop and a long time to heal. Workers should have their workstations evaluated by a competent person to identify any issues that may lead to injury.
There are other hazards in an office such as slips, trips and falls, poor or faulty ventilation systems, or electrical problems. There may also be security issues that can be harmful. In California, offices are also required to assess earthquake hazards. Lack of seismic protection can lead to injuries or other exposures.
Every employer is required to have an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) that addresses exposures. This also applies in an office. As part of the IIPP, there should be an Emergency Action Plan which outlines workers’ response to a workplace fire or other emergency. This plan should be practiced, so that workers know what to do if something happens.
Workers should take responsibility to keep their workplace safe for themselves and their colleagues. Discovered hazards must be reported to a manager. A workplace may also consider using a Safety Committee to perform inspections and respond to employee concerns.
To get more information on the applicability of an office safety program for a specific County operation please contact the corresponding departmental Safety Coordinator.
For further information on specific regulatory guidelines please refer to the link(s) below:
Injury and Illness Prevention Program
Emergency Action Plan
Cal-OSHA Emergency Action Plan
Office Safety – Recognizing Hidden Dangers (Safety & Health Magazine)