Below are some tips to encourage a safe work environment.
- Use only UL-listed (Underwriters Laboratories Inc.) equipment.
- Arrange electrical extension cords to avoid tripping hazards.
- Be care around electrical appliances such as coffee makers, radios and lamps. Appliances should be equipped with electrical plugs that have a ground prong, or the appliance should be marked “double insulated” by the manufacturer.
- Electrical extension cords must never be used as a substitute for permanent wiring. When extension cords are a temporary necessity, they should be taped down, clipped to the back of desks or covered with a rubber passageway if they cross the floor.
- The National Electrical Code requires ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for restroom areas. The GFCI is a fast-acting device that senses current leakage caused by a fault in the electrical circuit. The GFCI shuts off the electricity to interrupt its faulty flow.
- All fuses and circuit breakers must be identified. This practice will reduce the time needed to identify a specific fuse or circuit breaker when there is a need to turn it off.
- Floors should have a slip-resistant finish. Tripping hazards can be minimized by immediately replacing defective tiles and carpet or worn floor mats. Slip-resistant floor wax can give polished floors a higher coefficient of friction.
- Floor mats and runners offer a more slip-resistant protection for stairways or lobby entrances.
- Offices should have an area specifically designed for storing supplies. Materials should be neatly stacked in stable piles with the heaviest pieces on the bottom. Office equipment should not be placed on the edge of a table or desk.
Office Safety Procedures
- Following safe work procedures in the office can prevent many accidents. Running in offices must be prohibited.
- Those walking in a passageway should keep to the right. Accidents result when persons stand in front of doors, so employees should stand clear of the door swing path.
- Employees should not attempt to carry stacks of materials that are high enough to obstruct vision. If an elevator is available, it should be used instead of carrying stacks of material up flights of stairs.
- Proper attention should be given to the act of ascending or descending stairs. Stairways should not be areas for congregation. Falls on stairs occur when people are distracted through conversation or by turning to another person while descending. Individuals should not stand near doors at stairways.
- Fall hazards can be prevented through good housekeeping. Spilled liquids should be cleaned up promptly, and loose objects and broken glass should be removed when first noticed. Broken glass should be immediately vacuumed or swept and the fine pieces should be picked up with a damp cloth.
- Poor sitting habits can also lead to falls. Rolling in one’s chair across the floor, leaning sideways in a chair to pick up objects from the floor, and leaning back in the chair with feet on the desk are excellent examples of poor office safety procedures.
- Filing cabinets can be a major cause of accidents and should be used with care. When using filing cabinets, follow these safety tips:
• Close all file drawers immediately after use.
• Close the file drawer with the drawer handle and not using feet.
• Open only one file drawer at a time to avoid toppling the cabinet.
• Never leave an open drawer unattended.
• Never open a drawer if someone is underneath it.
• Never climb on open file drawers.
- Remove small stools (used to access upper file cabinet drawers) from passageways and safely store them.
- Wear finger guards to avoid paper cuts.
- Other unsafe office procedures include storing pencils with points upward, placing scissors or knives with the point toward the user, using paper cutters without proper guards, and placing glass objects on a desk or table edge.
- Employees using lounges and eating areas should follow good housekeeping and safe operating procedures to prevent exposure to microwaves and burns from hot plates and coffee makers.
Emergency Action Plan
As a general recommendation, employers should develop an emergency action plan to address emergencies that the employer can expect in the workplace. Examples of such foreseeable emergencies are fire, toxic chemical releases, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and floods.