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Prevention is better than cure

Most of us end up working in either an office or in the field. Whether you’re a banker, lawyer, architect, or a construction worker, everyone should know how the proper procedures and protocol of workplace safety. Most big companies will have a manual that documents the entire safety procedure, and some of the smaller ones also follow suit. The purpose of these safety manuals is to ensure the health and lives of the workers within the company.

But you might find yourself asking…

Do my fingers hurt every time I use the business telephone systems?

How could we possibly be in danger if we’re sitting in front of a desk for 9 hours a day? It’s not like something’s going to fall on us or something.

The answer is very simple: These safety manuals are present because prevention is better than cure. It may not be you or someone you know who’s going to be a victim of office hazards, but someone somewhere in the world already got hurt badly because of the absence of these safety manuals.

Practical approaches to office and workplace safety

Office and workplace safety is not rocket science, but rather, it’s more on common sense and practicality. Sometimes, it’s also the responsibility of the worker or employee to uphold the safety protocols. Sometimes, safety manuals or procedures may not exactly prepare employees for dangers and hazards beyond their control, or in other words, their health.

So how does one practice office safety?

Let’s divide these into different categories.

First, we have the safety tips if you’re in your desk

Your furniture are not perfect, so be sure to check for cracks, loose screws and bolts, and damages that could put you at risk. For example, your executive chair can protect you from lumbar damages, but it won’t do a damned good thing if you tip over and fall on your head because one of the wheels came out. In a magazine that I’ve read, there was an office worker that got stabbed in the leg by a broken hinge that belonged to his drawer. Apparently, he didn’t notice that the hinge came off when he removed this faulty drawer. One fateful day, the hinge came off and when he moved his leg inside the table, the hinge penetrated his pants and flesh. It got him 10 stitches.

Electrical outlets near your desk or cubicle are also dangerous, especially if there are lots of wires within your vicinity. You can ask your maintenance personnel to organize the wires via a cable lock or strap so you don’t make the mistake of tripping on one of the wires. That telephone wire from your business telephone system can also be a hazard.

Now, if you find yourself sitting down for hours on end, be sure to take a break every now and then. You can stand up and do some stretching. Stretch your limbs, your back, and neck. This will help decrease the likelihood of you getting joint and bone problems. If you’re working with your hands, make sure they are well elevated enough or your hands are level with your desk. This will help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome, which is common for those who spend a lot of time with their hands stretched out.

Let’s go over the office setting.

The office is a big space and it’s more open to hazards than you think. Let’s disregard the size of the office space for the moment and focus on the important practical safety tips and approaches:

Fire and earthquake drills are important because you will never know when earthquakes or fires will hit you and your office. These drills are often complicated because there are different approaches. An office located on the ground floor will have a different drill than those offices located on the top of a 10 storey building or in the 30th floor of a 50 storey building. In order to get the proper information on protocols, you can ask help from your local fire department to help you conduct these drills.

When it comes to doing drills, it helps to have printed material on the protocols, like a map on where the nearest fire exits are. Good examples of these are malls that implement such feature. I have also witnessed several texts and graphics in schools that tell students what to do in the event of an earthquake or fire.

Let’s go over field work and the outside environment.

This basically applies to those working in the construction industry or to those who are around heavy equipment on a daily basis. This will also apply to those who find themselves doing fieldwork within these environments.

Safety gear is a must, from steel-toed boots to reflector vests to helmets. Some construction companies require or provide their workers with steel-toed boots that pass regulations from respective authorities. Helmets should also pass certain regulations in terms of quality and material. When you’re in-charge of checking the materials for your company, be sure to check with local authorities in terms of the current protocols and regulations when it comes to safety equipment and gear.

When it comes to heavy machinery, be sure to read the manual properly. When a machine breaks down, there are fail-safe procedures that will allow you to fix it without opening yourself up to injuries. Sometimes, fatalities and injuries resulting from working heavy machineries often stem from not turning them off properly. Signs are also important due to the possible lack of communication, much like putting a CAUTION WET FLOOR sign on a wet floor. When doing repairs on machinery, be sure to include signs like OUT OF ORDER or seal off them area with the machinery, so people will know that it’s broken or someone is doing maintenance work on the equipment.

Office and workplace safety is often disregarded because it’s a waste of time and money. Eventually, companies that fail to observe safety in their workplace often get their comeuppance when their employees sue them for their injuries. In the end, they pay millions of dollars for something that an hour of orientation and a thousand dollars of investment could save them.

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