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National Safety Month: 10 Common Office Hazards to be Aware of

Workplace safety isn’t something that only applies to industries that require physical tasks – offices also have their own potential hazards. In honor of June being National Safety Month, take some time to learn how to keep yourself safe at work – check out these 10 common office hazards:

1. Repetitive Strain Injuries

Office workers are prone to repetitive strain injuries, most commonly in their shoulders, neck, and hands, due to how their bodies are positioned throughout the day while sitting at their desks and using computers. Sit with proper posture, take short breaks and change positions consistently, and consider asking for a new chair, desk, or computer keyboard if you continue to experience pain. 

2. Violence

Unfortunately, workplace violence is all too common – homicide was the second leading cause of workplace deaths in 2019. Always report any instances you experience or witness of bullying, harassment, or assault to your employer, who should have a zero-tolerance policy. 

3. Stress

Chronic workplace stress is not only bad for morale and productivity but can also be hazardous by contributing to physical, mental, and emotional health conditions. Prioritize work-life balance by taking time off and establishing boundaries. Find effective ways to manage your stress levels, such as regular exercise. 

4. Slip and Fall

Slips and falls are some of the most common causes of workplace injuries in general, including offices. Make it a priority to ensure walkaways are clear of any objects that you could trip over, such as boxes, cords, open drawers, and check that floors and outdoor walkways are dry. 

5. Fire

Cooking and electrical malfunction are the top two contributors to the fires that occur in office buildings, so it is crucial to be aware of preventive measures and escape plans. Report overused outlets to facilities management, never leave any heating devices unattended, and double-check escape routes. 

6. Eye Strain

Spending eight hours a day looking at a computer screen puts office workers at risk of eye strain. Prolonged eye strain can cause dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and pain in the neck and shoulders. Make sure you have adequate lighting in your office workspace, and take regular breaks away from screens, even just for a few minutes per hour. 

7. Poor Indoor Air Quality

A common hazard for office buildings is air pollution caused by things like dust, mold, mildew, chemicals. In the short term, exposure can cause respiratory irritation, headache, and fatigue and, over time, can result in respiratory illnesses. If you notice air quality issues, bring them to the attention of your manager. 

8. Noise

Office workspaces, especially those with cubicles or open environments, can expose employees to constant noise throughout the day. In addition to affecting your ability to focus and be productive due to the distraction, it can also cause headaches, fatigue, and high blood pressure. If noise levels are causing you discomfort, ask if you can wear headphones or be seated away from any loud office equipment. 

9. Extreme Temperatures 

Temperature control in an office isn’t simply a matter of comfort – extreme temperatures can be hazardous. Too hot of temperatures can cause heat exhaustion, and being uncomfortably chilly can cause joint pain and headache. OSHA recommends office temperature be set to between 68 and 76 F but to account for your own individual comfort level, bring clothing to layer or a desk fan. 

10. Disease Spread

In an effort to stay productive, many employees will come into the workplace even when they are sick. This, unfortunately, leads to infectious diseases spreading throughout the office. Ensure that you sanitize shared spaces and objects before using them. 

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