Many of you know me as a crazy, plain speaking blogger who is unafraid to speak her mind, but in a brief, short life I worked in a corporate office environment, where each day was as dull as the next. When I first began working in marketing and journalism, I was passionate about writing and using social media to elevate our brand to the next level. But like most workplaces, I had a boss to answer to and that boss was adamant that ‘digital media’, especially finding influencers to promote our brand was not the way forward. Eventually their brand crashed and burned because they did not analyze audience metrics to determine the best way to promote their brand and our suggestions often fell upon deaf ears. But I digress, working in an office environment not only showed me what I didn’t want from a job but it also showed me what the hidden dangers of working in an office were.
When it comes to safety, the last place you would expect as being a ‘safety hazard’ would be an office, but this is where you are wrong. I too was ignorant, but after leaving the office environment, I noticed a notable decline in posture, where my back was always hunched over a computer and found that my eyes were becoming strained, from looking at a computer screen for too long. While they say that you should take a break every 20 minutes, to reduce eye strain, we all know from working in a corporate environment that breaks are often not an option. Even in our lunch breaks, we often had to deal with deadlines, which meant that we were not getting enough nutrition to kickstart our day!
Office Safety was never something I had openly considered while I was working in an office environment, but after leaving the corporate workplace and moving into blogging full time, I realized that there were several dangers that I would like to avoid when working from home which include the following: poor ventilation, overloaded sockets and spillages that can affect my physical wellbeing, as well as emotional state of mind. Below I have listed the most common dangers found in the office workplace and how you should avoid them at all costs. After all, it sounds boring to say ‘safety first’ but the truth is, you don’t want to be working in a job that undermines your health and wellbeing so make sure you get to grips with the hidden costs of ‘office working life’.
- Heavy Lifting & Handling
As someone who suffers with Scoliosis and has a permanent back injury, lifting heavy objects can often leave my back in excruciating pain, but in some jobs you have no option but to lift. While in my office job, heavy lifting was minimal when I was working as a community nurse, I would often have to lift heavy nursing equipment and sometimes even the clients themselves, when they were being fed, changed and washed, all of which had an effect in damaging my back. While there is of course guidelines on carrying equipment/ boxes ect. in the heat of the moment we can often forget how to ‘lift objects’ which over the course of time can cause injury like it did with me.
In an office environment though, I firmly believe that there should either be ‘specialist equipment’ to handle heavy objects or at the very least be signs and tutorials on how to lift then objects safely without causing injury. Of course if like me you do have back problems, then getting someone else to do it is always an option haha.
2. Overloading Sockets With Plugs & Cables
We live in a digital age, where we often have multiple devices on the go, including our smartphones, laptop and computers and in some cases even I-pads and tablets too. But the issue of overloading sockets can be life changing and statistics from the 29th June, 2017 have shown that 183 people were injured due to fire hazards. It might be because you have your kettle plugged in, alongside your personal microwave, computer and multiple devices but the reality is, its better to not overload your sockets to put safety first. After all, no one wants to be injured in an environment that they are working in do they?
To avoid overloading sockets, ensure that the fire safety kit is well maintained, use plugs that are not connected to extension leads and above all if you are using an extension lead do not use every socket as this can overheat.
3. Eye Strain With Prolonged Computer Use
Experts suggest that we should have a break every 20 minutes to rest our eyes, but the truth is in many working environments, a regular break is not an option. After all you have deadlines to complete, emails to fire off and clients to manage so how on earth can you have time for a break I hear you ask? The reality is that eye strain is caused by more than just prolonged ‘working activity’ but it is also due to poor office lighting, neglected eye care and the brightness of your computer screen.
To ensure that eye strain does not pose a risk to your eyesight, adjust your computer settings, ensure your desk and working environment is well lit and minimize glares on walls, glass and reflections on your computer screen.
4. Poor Ventilation In A Working Office Environment
We all know how important fresh air can be for both our physical wellbeing and for clarity of mind, but we often don’t take into consideration is how poorly ventilated office environments can be. For a start they are stuffy, many rarely use air conditioning and in some offices there are no windows. For those who have allergies poor ventilation can create breathing difficulties, itchy or watery eyes and in more severe cases create hospital emergencies. I have lost count of the times where I have passed out in an office environment, because it was too warm for my body to handle and how easily that could have been prevented had there been A. a good support network , C. fresh water and sugar on standby and C. air conditioning to regulate room temperatures.
To avoid poor ventilation use well maintained air filtration systems, keep windows open, install air conditioning and employ personal fan systems to keep workers cool. Having a water supply system tank would ensure that workers stay hydrated too.
5. Eliminate ‘Slip Hazards’
From water spillages, to overflowing sinks, slip hazards have affected over 20,294 in the office workplace. Exposed cables on the floor and water spillages are top risks, with many causing broken bones, slipped disks or fractures, which is never pleasant.
To avoid ‘slip hazards’ mark spills with a caution sign, before clearing up, cover un-moveable cables and wires with cable guards to avoid slips and try to ensure that you clear up after yourself, especially after making coffees or food as spilled liquid can also cause injury.
Above all, regardless of our working environment, we must always learn to be kind to ourselves
Have You Ever Worked In An Office Environment Before?
Please note this was a collaborative post with Accident Advice Helpline, but this does not affect my thoughts and all opinions and research are my own.