Though some jobs come with more risks than others, it’s important to stay safe wherever you work because you spend so much time there. Working in an office comes with its own set of occupational safety hazards, and being aware of them can help you mitigate risk. These nine useful workplace safety tips will help you stay harm-free and healthy in an office environment.
1. Educate Yourself About Your Job’s Hazards
If you work in an office, you may need to learn how to properly use the copier and where cleaning supplies are kept. Though training is usually provided about safety at work, stay aware of your surroundings and be mindful of new or unfamiliar hazards that may arise. If you ever need to move heavy objects, keep your back straight and do the lifting with your legs to lift to help your back stay healthy.
2. Sit Back and Relax . . . Properly
One of the biggest risks to office workers is sitting: if you don’t do it correctly, you risk serious back and neck injuries. If you can offer workplace suggestions, encourage your boss to invest in ergonomic desk chairs. This will pay off for you and your coworkers, as you likely spend most of your time in your chair. Always sit with your shoulders and hips aligned to reduce pressure on your back and lessen the chance of an injury.
3. Give Your Eyes a Rest
Sitting at a computer for long periods of time is a norm in the American workplace, but it doesn’t come without safety risks. Your eyes will bear the brunt of such heavy screen exposure, so take regular breaks to keep them in good condition and don’t sit too close to your screen. Aim to look away from your screen every twenty minutes—your future eyesight will thank you.
4. Know Your Workplace’s Emergency Plan
Make sure you know where the nearest exits are—even on floors you visit less frequently—in the event there is a fire or other emergency at work. Knowing how to quickly get out of your building in an emergency is an important element of workplace safety that could save your life. This is one reason to never skip your office’s fire drills.
5. Speak Up When Necessary
If conditions in your workplace don’t seem safe, say something. Your boss should immediately deal with unsafe conditions, including dangerously high or low temperatures. If your office air conditioner breaks, and your workspace reaches ninety degrees, tell your supervisor because this may pose a threat to employees. Similarly, you shouldn’t have to navigate a room full of supplies to get to the photocopier, so report this safety hazard if it happens.
If dangerous conditions persist after you alert a supervisor, you can contact OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
6. Treat Your Body Kindly
Going to work with a hangover is not a good idea, and neither is filling your body with junk food throughout the workday. Working in an office can make us inactive, which negatively affects productivity and energy levels. To avoid sluggishness, get daily exercise of some kind, stay hydrated, and eat nutritious foods instead of grazing on processed sugar.
7. De-stress with Deep Breathing Exercises
Work can be stressful and negatively impact our health. One of the easiest ways to de-stress at your desk is to take five to ten slow, deep breaths and hold each one for a few seconds. If you struggle forming this habit, consider downloading a deep breathing app to motivate and guide you. It’s a small effort that can make a big difference.
8. Know When to Stop Working
It can be tempting to drag yourself to the office even when you’re sick, but this isn’t beneficial for you or your coworkers. Take a break from work when you feel under the weather. Your boss would rather have one person gone for a day or two than an entire team out with the flu.
9. Learn Your Rights
Workers in the United States have a right to safe and healthy working conditions, as outlined by OSHA. OSHA describes employer responsibilities, which employees fall under OSHA’s jurisdiction (most do), and employee rights to file complaints when necessary. Knowing your rights is the best way to ensure your employer works within them, so spend some time reviewing OSHA’s information.
Your office is probably a relatively safe work environment, which makes it easier to be conscientious about your well-being. Be aware of potential risks, and you’ll stay productive and healthy throughout the year. Share this advice with your friends and coworkers to help them get the most out of office work life this year.
*SafeWise has conducted impartial research to recommend tips. This is not a guarantee of safety. Each individual’s unique needs should be considered when deciding on chosen safety measures.