While not nearly as dangerous as occupations like construction or logging, working in an office comes with its own set of health hazards. You might not think that being indoors and working at a desk would cause health concerns, but accidents do happen. In addition, common strains can lead to debilitating injuries thanks to doing repetitive tasks in long shifts.
Being aware is the first step to protecting yourself, so here are some of the most common office health risks and how to avoid or minimize your chance of injury.
Falling, Slipping, and Tripping
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falling down is not only the top office accident, but office workers are more likely to receive a disabling injury from falling than non-office workers.
These falls are often caused by the fact that offices have lots of equipment in them and are confined spaces, meaning that there are many things for people to trip over or fall from. Some of the most common objects to trip on include open drawers, electrical wires, and loose carpeting. Slipping on wet floors or toppling off from an unstable chair also happens often.
Prevent fall related accidents by paying attention to your surroundings, closing drawers, reporting things that need to be fixed, cleaning up spills, and exercising sound judgment. For example, if you need to reach something overhead, use a ladder rather than a chair. Ladders are more stable and safer since chairs aren’t designed for people to stand on.
Strains and Overexertion
These types of injuries are often the result of improper lifting or stretching. If sitting, get up to reach a faraway object rather than straining to get to it. If you need to pick something up from the floor while standing, remember to lift from your legs, using a straight back, otherwise you risk pulling a muscle or “throwing out” your back in the process.
Know your limits. We all have our pride, but always ask a co-worker to help lift something that is too heavy for you to handle safely by yourself. Also avoid twisting your arms or body in an awkward manner, especially when lifting or reaching for something.
Ever get a sore back, neck, or shoulders after work? Those minor aches are the result of static posture, namely, working and putting strain on your muscles by holding them in the same position (like your arms over a keyboard) for long periods of time. Your body becomes fatigued and over an office worker’s lifetime, that soreness can become problems like chronic back pain.
While remembering to get up and move around definitely helps reduce the stress of static posture, sitting correctly while working is also important. Most, if not all, desk workers can also benefit from having an ergonomically sound workstation and office setup.
Furthermore, since they are designed with office workers in mind, equipment such as ergonomic office chairs not only increase your comfort while working, but reduce static posture’s strain on your body.