Is your workplace as safe as it should be?

By Donna Marrin

John’s desk has an annoying network of device cables hanging loose beneath it, and he’s been meaning to address the issue... As John prepares to leave the office one day, his foot gets caught in a printer cable. He trips and falls hard, injuring his shoulder, while the printing unit that sits at the edge of his desk topples onto his arm, fracturing it near the elbow.

It’s hard to think about this sort of thing happening to you, but an incredible number of workplace accidents occur every day, with slips, trips and falls being the leading cause of office injuries. Most workplace accidents are completely preventable. Awareness is the first step in creating a safe environment. And a little common sense always goes a long way.

• Sure, stubbing a toe can be funny. Breaking a limb is not. Disabling falls can be prevented by making sure that all open spaces are clear of electrical, telephone and computer cables, boxes, and other clutter.

• Eat your pancakes—don’t be one. File cabinets frequently topple forward when drawer weight is unevenly distributed. Always close one drawer before opening another.

• Unless you’re setting up for a Saturday Night Live skit, close all desk and cabinet doors and drawers before you walk away to prevent “walk into” accidents.

• You can wear a helmet around the office… or you can make sure supplies are stored inside cabinets, not on top of them, and heavy items placed in lower drawers or on the lowest shelves.

• Unless your workspace is an ice rink, be aware of any slippery surfaces. Drinks spilled on floors or even a dripping umbrella can be hazardous and should be cleaned up or identified immediately.

• Pay attention when you’re on the move. Don't carry loads that block your view ahead. Not only can you trip and fall, you also become a human battering ram to the distracted coworker who walks head on into you. With that said, don't read while walking, either. I know someone who slammed into a concrete post and knocked himself out cold while reading and walking.

• Not a fan of concussions? Then don’t climb on chairs, desks or boxes when you want to access something that’s out of reach. Use a secure stepladder instead, and have a spotter nearby.

• Handrails are in stairwells for a reason. Hold onto them when you’re descending OR ascending a staircase.

• No butts about it—millions of dollars in damages are caused each year by carelessly discarded cigarette butts. Here’s where that common sense comes into play: don't throw matches, ashes or cigarette butts into wastebaskets.

• Hilarious in Christmas Vacation, but not so hilarious if overloaded wall sockets and extension cords turn you into a hill of ash at work. And you’ll get more than a full head of corkscrew curls if you mix wet hands and electrical switches, sockets, plugs.

• Keep an eye open for unsafe conditions caused by defective equipment, loose stairs or floorboards, torn carpet, slippery doormats, burned-out lightbulbs, etc., and report them to your manager immediately.

• No matter how much they’ve dared you to do it, do not lean back as far as you can in your chair!

Here’s to a safe 2012.

By Adam

January 20, 2012