Good Morning Team,
All across our company we face a wide variety of jobs and the hazards that might go with them. For those of us in the maintenance field, which includes grounds keeping and janitorial work, we can go from tightening a packing gland on a leaking faucet, to trimming hedges and disposing of yard waste, to cleaning up a toilet overflow. We can go from working on the rooftop in the full sun to spreading ice melt on treacherous walks so that others may walk safely. Sometimes these tasks can all occur within a day’s time. That is why some of us might think that those that work in a climate controlled office with soft cushioned chairs and armrests are somewhat removed or immune from hazardous working conditions. While it may be true that they are at a lower risk for some injuries, hazards do exist within the office environ. We must do everything we can to mitigate them and recognition is the key.
Probably the most important thing to do for those sitting at a desk working on a computer for long hours is in maintaining a neutral position. You should be able to do most of your work with your head centered over your shoulders, wrists should be flat, with your elbows resting comfortably at your side. If this is not the case then either lower your keyboard or raise your chair. However, use caution when raising your chair as your feet should be able to touch the floor without leaning forward. A footrest can be used if needed, but sitting without the support your feet provide can put strain on your lower back, as well as decrease blood flow in your lower legs. You should also get up from your workstation at least once every hour and move about for a few moments. Getting that blood flowing not only benefits your body, but your brain as well.
Vision can also be affected and while looking at a computer monitor will not damage your eyes, for those that spend a large amount of time staring at one, it can lead to eyestrain as our eyes may become dry and irritated. Glare is your enemy here. If you cannot reposition the monitor, or make adjustments to the light source causing it, then the use of a glare screen is recommended. Also make sure your monitor is at the correct height. When seated in your neutral position, the monitor should be positioned so that it is slightly lower than eye level and 20-26 inches away from your eyes. Ambient lighting is also important. Office lighting is often too bright for optimal vision. Removing some of the fluorescent bulbs from the fixtures overhead can help. If certain tasks require more light consider a separate lamp for that task. Just make sure the bulb for this is fully recessed and doesn’t create a bright spot in your line of vision. Increasing the font size displayed on your monitor can also help you avoid eye and neck strain from constantly leaning in to read that smaller font. Finally, occasionally look away from the screen and focus on objects that are farther away in the room for 15 – 30 seconds every 10 – 15 minutes.
Here are a few more tips to help the office worker, as well as all others, avoid the hazards to health and safety often found in our shared workplaces:
All employees deserve to work in an environment that is as hazard free as possible and all workplaces will have some unique hazards that everyone working within should be aware of. If there is something in yours that you feel is unsafe or may cause an accident or injury then the time to act is now. Do everything within your power to help mitigate it, or if that isn’t possible, report them to your supervisor or manager. Don’t let inaction be the real reason an accident or injury occurs. Think and then act safely.
Have a great week and be safe.