The average worker on a 9 to 5 schedule spends at least 40 hours a week at the workplace. In essence, this means that one spends most of their time at work than anywhere else. All workplaces have hazards that pose a threat to the health of employees in varying degrees depending on the nature of the work and the design of the office space. Some of these health hazards may initially be perceived as insignificant, and they can be at first, but over a period of time, they may cause severe health problems.
As such, employers are obligated to put in place measures to ensure the safety and security of their employees at all times. However, despite positive efforts to this effect, there are still some items found in most workplaces that are seemingly harmless but might occasionally cause injuries.
Below are 5 of the most potentially harmful items found in most workplaces:
1. File cabinets/Safes
To start off the list is one of the most common types of office equipment. To their credit, file cabinets are rarely the cause of workplace injuries but when wrongly placed, they may cause injury when you walk into one, considering that most file cabinets and office safes are heavy and have sharp edges.
Wrongly placed file cabinets and safes also affect movement. They may block the pathways hence movement being a tiresome and dangerous task most especially for visually-impaired workers.
2. Poor Lighting
If your work-space is too dimly lit, it makes you strain to see what you are reading or writing. Similarly, if it’s too brightly illuminated, you may need to squint in order to see.
Signs that you could be experiencing poor lighting include:
• Suffering migraines while working
• Dizziness when you stand
• Blurry vision and lack of eye focus
Poor lighting may lead to sight defects that could even lead to partial blindness in extreme cases. It is important to install blinds or use curtains on the windows to minimize excess natural light from outside. You can also get desk lamps that allow regulation of light. If you are on your computer most of the time, also regulate the level of brightness to be as low as possible. You can also get anti-glare glasses and photochromic lenses that protect your eyes from the glare of computer monitors
3. Office Chairs
Your present and future health is very much depends not only on the type of job you do but also on the quality of the chair you use while at the workplace. Spending your days on an uncomfortable or faulty seat causes poor posture which in turn may lead to lumbago or distortion of the spine.
The remedy? Get a chair with an adjustable height, comfortable backrest and some armrests and make sure to maintain good posture while sitting. Ensure that your legs always reach the floor with your back resting on the backrest. Most importantly, keep your neck upright at all times.
4. Photocopy machines and Printers
From not churning out copies fast enough to producing low-quality copies, we all have a reason to hate the office copy machine. But it seems there’s more; they also pose a risk to our health.
According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), copy machines if poorly maintained can emit some toxic chemicals and gases which may cause skin and respiratory diseases if they come into contact with the skin. Additionally, some machines may emit excessive light which may be harmful to one’s eyes if there is prolonged contact.
5. Paper shredders
Ideally, paper shredders are supposed to help in the safe disposal of documents. However, in some cases, there are workers who have found their fingers injured or long hair shredded instead. All it takes is a loss of focus even for a slight moment. It is therefore advisable to be very careful when putting the paper into the machine and to keep hanging pieces of clothing and hair away.
And there you have it folks – some great examples of very useful tools which can turn deadly in a heartbeat. And as it were, they are functionally unavoidable in the office which basically leaves you with one option; to actively ensure that your office space is as safe as possible!