The design of your office and everyday habits can lower the risk of accidents from happening. It is important to clearly outline and communicate policies and guidelines on safety standards and office policies; and make sure they meet all necessary health and safety regulations.
Especially in open office areas, cord management can be a problem. Modern office environments are open areas with various pathways going to different areas. This many pathways can be a challenge to keep clear of the many cords that are needed to keep our computers, devices and other electrical items powered up. Make sure that pathways are clear from possible hazards that could cause a person to trip and fall.
Make sure enough storage is available for the necessary paperwork, and proper storage areas designed and available for larger items such as bicycles. Pathways should be clearly defined, so there is no question on what areas need to be kept free of clutter.
Clear Line of Vision
The benefit of an open concept office are that they offer a clear line of vision when walking from one area to the next. If your office has areas with partitions, interior walls, standing desks and storage areas above eye level, take precautions to help prevent people from colliding. Some safety council regulations suggest convex mirrors at blind corners.
Glass walls and doors for interior offices increase visibility, where solid walls would not. They offer a line of sight through a room to see oncoming traffic around the corner, but can present other problems. If the glass is clear, this could be a hazard if someone thinks the wall / door is not there. Consider a window film application that comes in various colours and transparencies. In addition to safety, it can offer a colourful or subtle frosted design to decorate or brand the office. Both designs can be applied to a portion of the glass, but when using opaque window films, make sure to apply below eye level at the blind corners so you can see oncoming traffic. The benefit of window film is that it gives definition to a glass wall or doorway to help prevent a person from walking into it accidentally, keeps open a clear line of vision and allows for light to still come through.
Ergonomics is about maximizing productivity for the work being done, with as little negative impact to the person’s physical body. When purchasing office furniture and designing workspaces, ergonomic principles are now being applied to minimize the risk of injury when a person is performing the required task.
The following are a few safety tips to consider when performing tasks at the office
- Keep joints in a neutral position to minimize strain on muscles and joints, especially during long periods of sitting and standing.
- Keep work close to your body so that you are not putting strain on your lower back by leaning forward to perform the task.
- Avoid bending forward while reaching away from the body. The lower back can become strained while maintaining balance.
- Avoid twisting and turning the torso of your body to prevent undesirable strain to the spine and back muscles.
- Bend at the knees when lifting something and do not lift anything too heavy. Use mechanical aids when necessary and accessible, or ask someone for help.
- Avoid working on tasks where you are reaching above shoulder level. Always choose a neutral position when completing a task to reduce mechanical stress to the body.
Ontario Chiropractic Association recommends you take a break every 30 – 45 minutes. Take a quick stretch break or change position to relieve your back, neck and shoulders.