According to research, over 137 million working days were lost to sickness and workplace injuries in 2016. A great deal of those lost days was the direct result of an injury sustained at work, ranging from a migraine to a broken leg.
Without realising, we are subjecting ourselves to potential danger every time we step foot in the office, but there are a few things we can do to protect ourselves. With that being said, we’ve taken a look at some of the main causes of workplace injuries and how to avoid them.
There are multiple ways that we suffer from injuries at our desks, and we don’t mean paper-cuts. Thousands of workers suffer from aches and pains in their back, wrists and forearms each day by simply carrying out their work.
Posture and placement of office tools such as the mouse and keyboard are contributing factors when it comes to muscle strain, and people often underestimate how much of an effect it can have.
Sitting down for extended periods of time in an office chair is a major cause for back problems, with the static posture causing stress to the lower back, shoulders and even arms. Going a long time without getting up and stretching your legs will allow you to slouch in the chair, but this is not good for your posture.
A solution to this problem would be to take regular intervals of getting up and walking around, whether you are grabbing some fresh air or making yourself a cup of tea. Other possible solutions include making an effort to sit up straight when you are working or even requesting an ergonomic office chair if the situation is that bad.
Strains to the wrists and forearms are generally caused by how you hold the mouse and how you use the keyboard. Typing all day can be a strenuous task on your fingers, and the placement of the wrist can be the difference between pain and ease.
Using the keyboard with your wrists flat on the desk will end up causing a lot of pain after only a short amount of time, forcing your fingers to work harder to type and generally doing more damage than good.
Wrist rests can be an effective solution for helping to take some of the pressure off, and gel filled mouse pads also work well for the same reason.
The pain experienced through bad posture can leave you with injuries that will only get worse over time and can lead to further problems later down the line. We recommend dealing with any minor injuries or problems as soon as possible.
Lighting & Screens
The brightness of a room or a computer screen can cause a great amount of stress and strain on the eyes, leading to headaches and migraines.
Having the brightness turned all the way up on the computer screen can be very damaging to your eyes, causing them to squint and work harder to see. Frequent damage to the eyes can lead to long-term sight problems, with screen brightness being one of the main offenders.
As well as causing damage to the eyes, the amount of squinting will lead to severe headaches and can be very distracting when you are trying to work.
Turning the brightness down and keeping it at an appropriate level will go a long way in prolonging your vision, and taking regular breaks away from the screen is encouraged.
The same can be said for the lighting in a room, with intense bright lights proving to cause more problems than to solve them. Using natural light where possible is the preferred solution, and lightbulbs that are easy on the eyes.
We recommend that anyone who works with computers should get an eye test every year to make sure they are not damaging their vision.
A large amount of office injuries are caused by people slipping on wet floors or tripping over boxes and other objects left around.
Loose carpet, cables and even a pencil can all be tripping hazards, adding an element of risk to walking down the hallway where there shouldn’t be. Taking the time to put away anything used and making sure all flooring is secure will ensure that nobody gets hurt.
Slipping and falling on wet floors is something that is very common, but needs to be addressed. The smallest puddle of water is enough to cause someone to slip and fall on their back, and the repercussions of this can be fatal. Landing directly on the back can cause a lot of pain to the spine and shoulders, and could even lead to loss of function in extreme cases.
Spillages in the workplace should be dealt with straight away and never left unattended. Any wet floor should be clearly sign posted and tripping hazards should be kept to a minimum to avoid potential injuries.
If your job requires any amount of manual handling and it is done incorrectly, the result can leave you with permanent back and neck pains.
Lifting and carrying heavy objects with poor posture can lead to a series of back problems, which in turn will mean time has to be taken off work. Time off due to injury from heavy lifting is one of the more frequent reasons for workplace sickness, so it’s important to correctly learn how to handle any manual work.
You should never attempt to lift an object that is too heavy or hard to hold, knowing your own strength will save you in the long run.
Making sure that all workers are fully trained and know the correct procedures for lifting heavy objects is essential for securing their safety.
The most cost effective and time efficient way of training staff on manual handling is to use online training courses. We offer a OSHCR accredited course that can be done remotely, saving you time and avoiding any potential legal claims because of injury.
Working with plug sockets or cables that are even slightly damaged can be a big violation of health and safety, and could easily cause an office injury.
Electrical equipment that is faulty or exposed poses a threat to the health and safety of anyone working in the building, and the spark could cause a serious injury depending on the voltage. Even a weak voltage can still send out a painful electric shock.
An exposed wire not only has the potential to give out an electric shock or spark a fire, but it also presents itself as a tripping hazard for anyone walking by. To avoid this, make sure all cables are neatly tucked away and out of sight, leaving no room for error.
Any electrical equipment in the office should have a PAT sticker to verify that is has been tested and it is safe to use. It is better to be safe than sorry.
There are many different ways that workers subject themselves to the possibility of office injuries on a daily basis without even realising. But if you use this advice, you should be able to keep the danger in the office to a minimum.
If you’ve got any more questions about health and safety in the workplace or would like to enquire about any of our online training courses, please get in touch today.
As a Managing Director at Wurkplace since May 2010, Karen has extensive HR, employment law and health and Safety experience from working within the private sector.
She also boasts experience of working in the public sector including local authority, fire service, police, schools, colleges, charities, NHS.