Office workers tend to have an artificially inflated sense of security when it comes to workplace safety. It’s not like the members of the buttoned-down, nine-to-five set are climbing construction scaffolding or chasing suspects down dark alleys, so what do they have to be afraid of? Plenty, since tens of thousands of office workers get hurt at work every year.
Slips and Falls
Nothing hurts office workers more than slips and falls, which are responsible for the most disabling workplace injuries. Surprisingly, office workers are at least twice as likely to endure a disabling fall as non-office employees, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Office workers are typically tripped up by:
- Open desk drawers, cords, and loose carpeting.
- Reaching for something while seated.
- Climbing onto a chair rather than a ladder.
- Wet floors.
- Poor lighting.
- Ice and snow coming in, or going out of, the building to the parking lot.
- Sidewalk or parking lot cracks, holes, bumps, sand, or other hazards.
It might seem counterintuitive since most office workers aren’t lifting or carrying heavy objects like delivery drivers or construction workers, but even small and medium-sized loads can cause serious injury. The fact that many office workers don’ t have to do any lifting and may be deconditioned means that they could be more susceptible to an injury on the day that they are asked to move a desk or transfer a number of files from one place to another. Lifting can hurt your back, neck, and shoulders over time. In fact, most back injuries are a result of improper lifting. Office workers tend to lift while sitting, which adds additional back strain when lifting back up. There’s also a chance of the chair slipping out from under the employee, which poses an even greater injury risk.
An improperly arranged workstation can cause musculoskeletal problems with an office worker’s neck, shoulders and back. Given the amount of time spent at the desk and in front of a computer, bad ergonomics can also cause eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome from the angle of typing.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends workers:
- Position the chair, keyboard and monitor in a straight line – parallel with the body.
- Maintain a relaxed, neutral posture.
- Sit up straight, adjusting the chair to provide firm back support.
- Let arms hang loosely at the shoulders.
- Keep elbows at a 90-degree angle while typing.
- Use an adjustable keyboard tray to position the keyboard and mouse at a comfortable height. Place the mouse next to the keyboard, as close as possible to the body, to avoid reaching.
- Adjust the chair’s height so the feet are placed firmly on the ground.
It’s also important that employees take frequent breaks. This helps relieve the strain on the body and reduce the risk of repetitive movement injuries.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, firefighters responded to more than 17,000 office fires in 2012. To prevent fire-related accidents, the National Safety Council advises that:
- Power cords should be inspected regularly and be replaced if they become frayed or reveal exposed wiring.
- Cords should never be used if the third prong has been altered in any way.
- Electrical outlets should never be overloaded. The most common cause of extension cord fires are improper use and overloading. Extension cords should be approved by a certifying laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories, and be used only temporarily to connect a single device at a time.
Finally, nothing should be placed within 18 inches of a fire-sprinkler head or in front of an emergency exit.
Indoor air quality has become increasingly important over the years. Poor air quality has been found to be a contributing factor to asthma and allergies, among other things. Poor air quality can be caused by inadequate ventilation systems, overcrowded offices, cleaning chemicals and pesticides, mold, humidity issues, and poor housekeeping.
Ice and Snow
Many employers will not file a workers compensation claim on behalf of an injured employee if they are not “on the clock”, and many insurance adjusters will deny a claim for this reason. While it is generally true (with some exceptions) that going to and from work is not compensable, a slip and fall or other accident in the parking lot, or on the way in the building, can be considered a work related injury. The facts of each situation are important, and can make or break the case, so talking to an experienced attorney as early as possible is important. It is best if this is done prior to giving a recorded statement because I have heard the adjuster ask key questions knowing that the injured party doesn’t understand the significance of the answer or the distinctions that can be drawn from what they say.
Officer workers can get hurt as easily as anyone else, despite the most meticulous of precautions. They also have the same rights to compensation for their injuries. If you’ve been hurt working in an office setting, you need to contact the Colorado workers comp lawyers at Burg Simpson right away by calling 303-792-5595 or fill out our FREE case evaluation form so that we can help with your case today!