Common Office Accidents and How to Prevent Them

Common Office Accidents and How to Prevent Them

Incidents and injuries in the workplace are preventable. Unfortunately, accidents and incidents are common in an office, although it may seem a safe environment. A number of ailments and problems can arise as a result of being seated for long periods of time; additionally, there are a number of other injuries that can be sustained when in an office environment.

Slips, Trips and Falls

The most common form of accident and source of injury in an office is caused by slips, trips and falls. Trips are most likely to arise within an office environment as a result of tripping over exposed electrical wiring, or an open drawer; perhaps falling off an unstable chair when bending, slipping on wet floors, or using a chair as a platform to stand on if an object is out of reach.

In order to avoid this, employees should ensure that they remain vigilant when traveling around the office, reporting any trip hazards to the Health & Safety officer for rectification. A stepladder should be used to obtain an object which is out of reach. If anything is spilt, then it should be cleaned up immediately to avoid slips.

Injuries Sustained From Improper Lifting

Incorrect lifting of items, even light objects, can cause injury. The most common injuries are back and shoulder strain, which can persist for weeks if not properly treated.

If a bulky or particularly heavy item needs to be lifted, an employee should ask one of his or her colleagues to help. To lift objects safely from the floor, workers should squat, hold the item securely and then straighten using their legs, not their back – which should be kept straight at all times. The same process is carried out in reverse when setting something down.

The video below demonstrates proper lifting techniques.

Bumps and Bruises

Many workers are also injured through bumping into objects, being struck by objects that have been thrown, or trapping fingers in places such as drawers or cupboards. Falling objects can cause injury if dropped on feet, and loose clothing or jewellery can become caught in office machinery.

These kinds of accidents can be avoided by staying alert and maintaining concentration on the task at hand. Potentially dangerous objects should be safely stored in locked cupboards when not being used, and guidance on how to use office equipment should be given to all employees.

Non-Ergonomic Workstations

Workstations that are not ergonomically friendly can cause lasting injuries and conditions, such as musculoskeletal problems, eyestrain and headaches. It is essential that workstations are designed so that the user can work comfortably, without risk of awkward stretching or limb movement.

To prevent these kinds of problems, it is important that the worker takes regular breaks, changing position and walking around to promote good circulation and reduce the risk of eyestrain. There are a number of basic checks that can be carried out to prevent the risk of injury.

  • Feet should be able to rest flat on the floor–a footrest can be used if needed;
  • Elbows should be able to rest on the desk at a 90-degree angle;
  • The top of the computer monitor should be at eye level;
  • Cushioned wrist supports can be used to prevent wrist strain.

Every office should have one or more Health & Safety officers, who are fully trained in the latest first aid procedures and treatments. These employees will be responsible for the treatment of any minor injuries, as well as the completion and maintenance of an accident log book.

These representatives will also be able to provide advice and guidance on how the business can improve, in order to reduce the occurrences of any accidents or incidents within the workplace. A First Aid kit should be kept on the premises at all times.

Alcohol Screenings in the Workplace

Drugs and alcohol in the workplace is a major issue many organizations face. Specifically, alcohol is even more prevalent in the workplace than drugs are. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that, compared to illicit drug users, there are over three times as many binge or heavy drinkers employed. In fact, over 80 percent of problem drinkers are full-time employees.

Problems Alcoholism Causes in the Workplace

Problem drinkers instigate billions in productivity losses, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This figure takes into account impaired workplace and domestic productivity, as well as alcohol-related premature death and work time lost by victims of alcohol-related incidents and those incarcerated for alcohol-related crimes.

Alcohol abuse also leads to augmented hospital costs and workers’ compensation and disability claims, as well as higher job turnover. Alcohol problems do not only affect the drinker, but also other employees. One-fifth of workers have been injured by, have had to increase their workload, or have had to cover for a problem drinker.

Alcohol Screenings Versus Drug Tests

Despite the fact that alcohol appears to be a larger problem in the workplace, more companies administer drug rather than alcohol tests. Pre-employment drug tests are twice as common as pre-employment alcohol screenings. Fifty-four percent of companies administer drug tests to their current employees, compared to the 36 percent who test for alcohol. One reason for this disparity is that alcohol testing is more inconsistent and problematical. This is because alcohol is dispelled from the body much more quickly than illicit drugs.

Alcohol Screenings

However, alcohol screenings may prompt some employees to lessen their drinking or to obtain treatment. One alcohol screening instrument is the ten question Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT). This survey asks in-depth questions about frequency and quality of alcohol consumption, harmful consequences, and addictive symptoms. Screenings such as this one could be offered at company wellness programs and health fairs. Online resources may also supply other valid screening tests and provide recommendations and additional information about local treatment centers for those seeking assistance.

Employee Assistance Programs

Employee Assistance

In addition to alcohol screenings, another way employers can help those suffering from alcoholism is by utilizing Employee Assistance Programs. The majority of American organizations offer Employee Assistance Programs, which are meant to help workers who having personal problems that may be negatively impacting their job performance; originally EAP’s focused on alcoholism.

Alcoholism in the workplace is a serious problem for some organizations, and it is imperative that managers and supervisors find ways to deal with this issue.