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Avoiding Common Workplace Injuries

21 Feb. 2018 Posted by aadams

Katie Moser, FEI Network Operations Specialist

In 2016, approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported by private industry employers.

No matter where you are, being aware of your surroundings is always important – even in the workplace. Modifications to the work environment can help prevent common workplace injuries.


Falls have the unfortunate (but unsurprising) distinction of being the most common type of office injury. Often times, slips, trips and falls can be avoided by keeping office spaces free of clutter; less to trip over means less injuries. Keep walkways clear, boxes and files organized and properly stored, and electrical cords secured and covered.

Employees should refrain from standing on chairs, especially those with wheels. If you need assistance with something out of reach, use a step ladder that is placed on firm, level ground, or connect with the on-site specialist or maintenance team. The National Safety Council also suggests keeping vision lines clear by installing convex mirrors to improve sightlines when turning corners. In addition, placing rugs and other skid-resistant surfaces in areas that might become slippery when wet can reduce falls.

Stuck or Caught by Objects

Being struck by or caught on an object is another common concern. Keep file cabinet drawers shut when not in use. Also, beware of fully-extended drawers, as they are prone to toppling over. Storing heavy objects close to the floor will help lower the risk of being injured if a cabinet or bookshelf falls over.

Ergonomic Injuries

Unfamiliar with the idea of ergonomics? It’s “the study of one’s efficiency in their working environment” and includes designing tools that consider the health hazards present in
the workplace.

Sitting for long periods of time day in and day out requires awareness of one’s physical limitations. Providing employees with adjustable, ergonomically-designed equipment such as standing desks or specialty chairs allows for opportunities to move, stretch and exercise. Worried about the expense of investment? These options also help reduce the cost of employee health insurance claims.

Vision Problems

Staring at a computer for eight-plus hours a day causes considerable eye strain, which in turn can lead to headaches. Taking small breaks from the computer throughout the day will lessen this strain. Also consider keeping lights dimmed and using desk lamps (fluorescent lighting is often too bright). To curtail neck and eye pain, employees should place computer monitors slightly below eye level, or 20-26 inches from their eyes. Avoid squinting by minimizing screen glare and increasing font sizes.

Fire Safety

Although less common, potential fire hazards remain an ongoing concern. Start taking steps by making sure all electrical cords are in good condition, as damaged cords can be a serious problem. Limit the use of space heaters; if you do need to use one, make sure it has a failsafe for turning off if it tips over. Keep space heaters away from paper products. Last, never block fire sprinklers or fire escape routes. Make sure all staff is aware of the company’s fire exit strategy by holding annual fire drills.

Administrative Controls

While office injuries can never fully be avoided, they can be decreased. Administrative staff play a key role when identifying and eliminating potentially harmful conditions. When conducting workplace walkthroughs, take this list of safety tips and see how many can be applied to your current work environment.

Talk to employees about their needs and concerns, educate them on safety procedures and establish a reporting system for potential hazards so that issues can be addressed before they cause a future workplace injury.


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