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Office Safety

All too often, we mistakenly believe that there are no hazards present in offices today. Although it is true that working in an office is safer than working in an industrial workplace, we should be aware that there are many potential hazards in office environments. The purpose of this notice is to inform you of the major types of hazards in an office and the precautions that you can take to prevent an accident occurring.

Slips, Trips and Falls:
If there are any spills, leaks or drips on the floor, contact Caretaking at Ext. 22401 and identify the area with paper towel, a chair or garbage can until a clean up is possible. If it is necessary to walk across wet floors, slow down and take shorter strides.
Good housekeeping is essential to prevent falls. All tripping hazards such as defective floors, rugs, or floor mats should be reported and immediately repaired.
When you are carrying material, be sure that you can see over and around it when walking through the office. Try to avoid carrying stacks of material on stairs; use the elevator instead. You should not have both arms loaded when using stairs; one hand should be free to use the handrail.
Electrical cords should never be placed under carpets or rugs; they sometimes come out because of traffic movement and form tripping hazards. All phone lines, power cords and extensions cords should be taped and fastened under the desk or along the baseboards. Where it is feasible, new outlets should be installed to eliminate the necessity for extension cords.
Always use a stepladder or a step stool to reach an object overhead (never stand on a chair).

Storage and Furniture:
We have had several accidents on campus where filing cabinets or shelving units have collapsed due to incorrect storage. Please adhere to the following guidelines when storing books and files:
Always load your filing cabinet from the bottom to provide stability. Open only one drawer at a time. Place file cabinets such that drawers do not obstruct aisles or walkways.
Secure tall cabinets to wall joist or floor. Do not keep heavy objects on top of tall filing cabinets.
When storing objects on wall mounted shelving always store heavy objects on the bottom of the unit with progressively lighter materials at the upper levels. The shelves should not sag in the middle.
Report all broken chairs, missing casters, stuck file drawers, and any other hazards, to your supervisor or Facilities Management (Ext. 22401).

Material Handling:
Lifting heavy objects in the office, like elsewhere, can be hazardous. If regular lifting is not part of your job, you may be more vulnerable to back injuries than someone who lifts objects every day. Contact Facilities Management to move desks, filing cabinets or other office equipment. If you must move heavy objects, try to use trolleys and remember that pushing is better than pulling.

Summary:
It is important not to underestimate the potential hazards in an office. Use these guidelines to help you recognize hazards and reduce office accidents. Always report hazards to either your supervisor, Facilities Management or the Department of Occupational Health and Safety.