Being employed in an office based environment might seem a lot less risky than an industrial setting, and you might have the benefit of being able to walk to work more easily too, boosting your health and mood before you arrive – but even in places where technology, paper, and comfy chairs are king, there are still hazards that can cause injury and illness. The United States Department of Labor now has over 50 years of occupational health and safety data recorded for analysis, and there’s no doubt that injury and illness rates have dropped in that time – but office-based incidents still make up a good proportion of all those reported. So how can you make sure you stay safe in the office and avoid the most common issues that occur?
Common office concerns
Of all reported cases of long-standing ill health, stress tops the chart with over 50% of the total. All employment can cause stress from time to time, but the fast paced and demanding nature of office-based roles is often a leading cause, forming a large part of the 94% of all actively-employed Americans who report that they experience stress while working, according to Wrike’s United States stress statistics. Employers following best practice guidelines should recognize this, and put programs in place to combat burn-out and depression, instead providing employees with opportunities for relaxation, effective time management, and training in stress management techniques.
Poorer mental health is not the only risk for an office-based employee. While offices may seem like safe spaces, the reality is that they are full of wires, electrical equipment, and bulky technology and furniture, which can all cause problems if not correctly installed and used. Whilst you’re more likely to require the services of a workplace injury lawyer in industries such as construction, maritime, oil and gas and those using industrial vehicles, slips, trips and falls, contact with hazardous objects, and exhaustion have all resulted in numerous lawsuits from office workers dealing with injuries and illness acquired in the workplace.
Stay informed, stay safer
With many office workers now working flexibly, spending more time working at home and less time at the office, it’s even more important to ensure that health and safety standards and requirements are understood. Falling over the family dog can be just as much of an issue for employers as falling down the stairs in the office, and both employers and employees are responsible for making sure their work environment is fit for purpose, wherever they are. Responsible employers will provide mandatory training, setting out the latest OSHA standards and reviewing working conditions regularly to provide employees with the information and equipment they need to stay as safe as possible.
If you are ‘engaged in employment’ or even just undertaking ‘activities incidental to employment’ (think breaks, using the bathroom, or fetching a cup of coffee) then you’re officially deemed to be at work, wherever that’s at the office or not. By taking note of tech, tucking in trailing wires, and identifying potential hazards and how you can deal with them, you’ll feel better, work better, and most importantly, stay on the right side of the law.