Office Safety Guidelines
We'd like to invite all our employees to join in a big effort to make our workplace one of the safest in the world. Let's face it; we spend much of our lives in our workplace, so we want it to be a pleasant, happy place. Accidents definitely spoil everyone's happiness, so they must be prevented. These guidelines show how we can accomplish our goal.
Maybe you think offices are not very dangerous places. Of course, you're right, but you'd be surprised how many small and big injuries can be caused by everyday objects. These guidelines are filled with practical tips on what to look out for to prevent accidents. Every member of staff has a part to play. Let's all sharpen our skills in spotting unsafe acts or unsafe conditions in our work areas and do something about them. When all are constantly aware of safety, we'll never again hear words like "ouch." In short, we'll all be happier!
All accidents are preventable.
The following 10 points sum up how CPO feels about safety and form the policies we act on to continually develop safer workplaces.
- Preventing all injuries and occupational illnesses is a realistic goal and not just a theory.
- We are all directly responsible for preventing injuries and illness with each level accountable to the one above and responsible for the level below.
- Safety is as important as production, quality and cost control.
- Safety awareness does not come naturally. Management must establish procedures and safety performance standards for each job or function.
- We must audit performance in the workplace to assess the effectiveness of facilities and programs, and to detect areas for improvement.
- All deficiencies must be corrected promptly, such as bettering employees' training and disciplining constructively and consistently.
- It is essential to investigate all unsafe practices and incidents with injury potential, as well as injuries.
- Serious illnesses and injuries involve tremendous cost directly or indirectly.
- Safety off the job is just as important as safety on the job. (See related information on home safety.)
- People are the most critical element in the success of a safety and health program. Management responsibilities must be complemented by individuals' suggestions and their active involvement in keeping workplaces clean.
Keeping our workplace clean and neat is a big contribution that everyone can make towards creating a safe work place. Housekeeping not only improves the appearance of a workplace, it also helps prevent injuries. What's more, a tidy work environment helps to make our work go faster and more efficiently.
Here are 7 steps key to good housekeeping:
- Remove all unnecessary items.
- Arrange necessary items properly so that they can be easily picked up for use.
- Clean your workplace periodically to ensure cleanliness.
- Maintain a high standard of housekeeping and workplace organization at all times.
- Ensure ample leg room.
- Maintain a minimum space of 3 feet wide wherever people need to walk.
- Keep perishable goods or samples in proper storage conditions.
Remember the following 4 simple points. They summarize nearly all you need to know to play your part in creating a safe workplace.
- Removing the causes of accidents is the first step to preventing them. Our workplace should be made hazard free and accident proof.
- Unsafe actions by staff members cause the largest number of office injuries. Staff members can prevent accidents by changing their behavior.
- Slips, trips and falls cause most of the serious injuries in offices. Hazards that might cause falls should not be allowed to exist.
- Fingers and hands suffer the most frequent office injuries, which occur while employees are handling everyday materials such as paper. Employees should take special care to avoid injury to their hands.
Below is a list of common office hazards. If you see any of them, take action to solve the problem. These are the most common hazards, but you should also stay alert for others not listed here.
- Protruding Keys left in a file cabinet lock. A passerby might bump into them and get a painful poke. Remove keys after using a file cabinet.
- "Jaws Drawers" - File cabinet and desk drawers are known to "bite" fingers. Avoid being bitten by drawers by using the handles.
- Open Drawers - Somehow there's always someone who has a fatal attraction to open drawers and will bump into them when you least expect it, and opening several file drawers at a time can tip over a cabinet. Keep drawers closed when not in use. Open only one drawer at a time.
- Obstacle Courses - When furniture is badly arranged, it can form an obstacle course for people trying to move about the office. Arrange furniture to allow people to move around freely and easily.
Passageways and Storage
- Blockages - Large objects or groups of people standing around blocking doorways and passageways increase the likelihood of bumps and knocks, because vision is blocked and space is tight. Keep doorways and passageways clear at all times, especially emergency exits. Make sure that any area where people walk up and down is at least 3 feet wide. DO NOT place objects close to fire extinguishers, fire hydrants or fire alarms.
- Climbing - Reaching for high objects while standing on a stack of boxes or a chair with wheels is dangerous. Always use a suitable ladder or step stool.
- Heavy Objects - These are dangerous if they fall. Store heavy objects near floor level.
- Toxic Chemicals - Do not store toxic chemicals in or near the office.
- Swing Doors and Corners - You can't guess when someone might be approaching the other side of a closed door or around a corner. Do not open doors suddenly. When working behind a closed door, lock it. Approach corners and doors cautiously.
- Running - This should be strictly a lunch-time or after-work activity for keeping fit. It has no place in an office, where it can cause close encounters of an embarrassing, or even painful, kind. Walk, don't run. Better to arrive late than without your two front teeth.
- Extension Cords and other wires snaking loosely across the floor. These can cause not only injury, but also the abrupt shutting down of electrical equipment such as computers. Clamp electric wires securely to the floor.
- Litter - Small items left lying on the floor have been known to cause some dreadful accidents. While somebody slipping on a banana peel may be funny in a comedy film, tripping on a pencil in the office may not seem so humorous. Food dropped on the floor is unhygienic as well as hazardous and should be disposed of in kitchen area garbage cans only. Anything dropped on the floor should be removed immediately.
Work Methods and Tools
- Using the Wrong Tools - Fingers are not suitable tools for jobs such as removing staples. Use the right tools for the job.
- Not Using Safety Glasses - Eyesight is precious. Always wear safety glasses when working with hand tools.
- Sharp and Pointed Objects - Even paper has sharp edges, as many office workers know from experience. Scissors, knives, pencils, letter openers and paper cutters are some other common sharp objects in the office. Use and store sharp objects carefully. Sheath them before storing in a drawer. Point them away from you on your desk. Do not use razor blades as cutters.
- Unreported Injuries - Reporting injuries reduces the chances of the same injury happeing to someone else in the future. Report accudents to help make the office safer for others.
- Clean Up Your Spills - Dispose of food waste in the proper container.
- Microwave Oven - Cover food in the oven to prevent spatter. Do not put metal, paper or styrofoam in the oven. Keep all flammable objects clear of it.
- Hot Objects - Use a cloth or mittens to handle hot objects.
- Kitchen Area Housekeeping - Do not stack up glasses too high. Store knives and can openers in the right place. Wrap broken glass in paper labeled "broken glass" and place in the kitchen garbage can. All waste food must be thrown only in the kitchen garbage cans. Keep the floor dry to prevent slips.
Equipment and Tools
- Using tools incorrectly can be hazardous. And it can be dangerous to use tools that are not properly maintained.
- Offices use a lot of electrical equipment. When using it, we should watch out for any obvious signs that something is wrong, such as loose wires, faulty connections, excessive heat, smoke or sparks.
- Never tamper with any electrical equipment. If repair is needed, always seek help from the qualified personnel in our office services department.
- Computers, printers and other electrical equipment should be switched off at the socket.
- Do not overload the socket outlet. If uncertain, check with your manager.
- Use the proper adapters for two-pin plugs.
- Safety glasses are to be worn while using certain had tools. Never fails to use them.
If your fingers do a lot of walking, the right position of your hands and body keeps your muscles and back stress-free and flexible. You'll be more comfortable and your hands won't get overworked. Follow these guidelines:
- Sit up straight, facing the computer screen straight on.
- Hold your head at a slight downward tilt to avoid straining your neck and shoulder muscles.
- Keep your hands and wrists level and straight while typing.
- Touch your keys lightly by keeping your wrists and fingers relaxed.
- Keep your feet flat and pointed toward the computer.
- Make sure the computer screen is adjusted at a comfortable angle, is neither too bright nor too dim, and is properly focused.
- DO hold the object you are lifting close to your body. Let go if you start to drop it.
- DO NOT bend, twist or pivot at your waist.
- DO NOT lift a heavy object above your chest.
- DO NOT use a jerking action when lifting.
- DO NOT lean forward with a weight in your hands.
At Your Desk:
- DO put a cushion in your chair to support your lower back if your chair has no lumbar support.
- DO support your arm while holding the telephone. Put your elbow on your desk or chair arm rest.
- DO hold reading material comfortably or use a reading support, to avoid slouching.
- DO wear good quality rubber-soled shoes.
- DO NOT twist your body in your chair to reach for a file or piece of equipment.
- DO NOT hold a telephone receiver between your shoulder and cheek.
- DO NOT overstretch to reach a file.
Know the following:
- The locations of fire extinguishers nearest to your workplace.
- Your nearest emergency exit.
- The alarm signal - the continuous ringing of alarm bells on every floor of the building.
If you discover a fire:
- Activate the nearest fire alarm and alert those around you by shouting or other effective means.
- Evacuate via the nearest exit. (See Office Emergency Map near exit doors.)
- If the fire is small, try to use a fire extinguisher to put it out. Do so only if you're not risking anyone's safety, including your own.
If you hear the fire alarm horn
- When the alarn horn sounds, all in the building must evacuate immediately.
- Don't panic. Look for the nearest exit sign and evacuate.
- Close all doors along the escape route, including doors to stairways, rooms, etc. to isolate or enclose the fire and prevent the spread of smoke or fire to other floors.
- Assembly point - As soon as you leave the building, go to the designated assembly area (see the Emergency Evacuation and Operations Plan) and report to the floor wardens so that s/he knows you are safely out of the building. Do not disperse or reenter the building until instructed to do so.
Employees traditionally have a feeling of responsibility and, thus, are conscious of the need for keeping fit for the job. Therefore, safety off the job is every bit as important as on the job. This information is about office safety, not home safety, but many of the suggestions can be applied wherever you go.
Here are a few more steps you can take to be safe off the job:
- Wear your seatbelt in your car.
- Have fire extinguishers and smoke alarms in your home and inspect them regularly.
- Inspect your home for fire hazards.
- Inspect your home for tripping, slipping and falling hazards. Remember, more falls occur in the home than on the job.
- Make sure your home tools and personal protective equipment are right for the job, used correctly and in good condition.