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May 13, 2019

10 Common Office Ergonomics Hazards – Ergonomics 101

A worker with neck pain dealing with office ergonomics hazards with the headline text to the left.To have a conversation about ergonomic hazards, we need to have a clear understanding of the definitions of these two words.

 

The first word is ergonomics, which is the study of how people work. If you're a golfer or a fan of golf you know Tiger Woods who has had several injuries in his career, including a back injury. Spinal problems are a common injury among amateurs and professional golfers. The work in golf requires an explosive release of energy in the downswing that places pressure on your back. Over time repetitive swinging of the club can cause injuries.

 

The second word is hazard, which is a potential source of harm. If you play golf, you're familiar with the term water hazard. If your ball lands in the water, harm will come to your score. If your shot misses the water and lands on the green, no harm came to your score. This means a water hazard is a potential source of harm in golf.

 

Now that we have established the context, ergonomic hazards are potential sources of harm to people from their work. What each of us does for work can be different. The hazards and potential sources of harm associated with being a golfer, a factory worker, construction worker, electric lineman, or an office worker are unique.

 

Be Aware of These 10 Common Office Ergonomics Hazards

Specifically when it comes to the office, activities like sitting in an office chair for extended periods, maintaining awkward positions at a desk, straining the eyes, and excessive mouse and keyboard use can cause musculoskeletal disorders. Below is a list of ten common hazards in office work environments that can impact employee health and safety.


  • Poor or inadequate lighting.
  • Computer monitor, keyboard, mouse use, repetitive strains and positioning.
  • Prolonged sitting in the same position.
  • Slip, trip, and falls.
  • Stress.
  • Indoor air quality.
  • Chemicals, e.g. cleaning products.
  • Electrical shock.
  • Contagious illnesses spread by sick workers.
  • Fire.

A graphic for a six-month free license of RSIGuard, the leading desktop software for office ergonomics.As an employer, you are required to furnish employment that is safe and healthful and do everything reasonably necessary to protect the life, safety, and health of employees. Employer responsibilities vary by state and country, but here is an example of Cal/OSHA’s requirements for employers. It is a good example of a comprehensive list of employer expectations. The list below is an extract of the California code.

 

  • Establish, implement, and maintain an effective injury and illness prevention program.
  • Establish or update operating procedures and communicate those procedures to employees.
  • Immediately report any serious injury, illness or death of an employee, occurring in a place of employment or in connection with employment. “Immediately” here means “as soon as practically possible but not longer than eight hours after the employer knows or with diligent inquiry would have known” about the incident or death. In extenuating circumstances, employers must report no later than 24 hours after the incident.
  • Keep records of work-related injuries and illnesses, unless exempted by the regulations, their rights, and responsibilities.
  • Make sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and properly maintain this equipment.
  • Post citations at or near work areas where an accident took place.
  • Provide medical examinations and training when required by Cal/OSHA standards.
  • Train employees and use color codes, posters, labels, or signs to warn employees about potential hazards.

Also, if you do have injuries or workers compensation claims they can be expensive. In a previous blog, we covered the top seven diagnoses for CT claims that cover 34.4 percent of all diagnoses for cumulative trauma based on workers compensation claims in California. See cumulative trauma (CT) claims costs.

 

Leveraging Office Ergonomics Software

So how can we help? Enviance provides software that helps organizations concerned about improving employee occupational safety, wellness, and productivity. Our office ergonomics, computer use behavior-based safety, case management, incident management, chemical management, audit and inspection solutions provide a flexible range of technology offerings to reduce injuries, lower worker compensation claims, and provide safeguards to prevent strain injuries.

 

One major issue for health and safety professionals responsible for office environments is simply numbers. In many companies with large office employee counts, they have small occupational health support teams.

 

One key to success is to use technology and training that empowers the employee to proactively avoid many office hazards. Using online training combined with a self-assessment of office workers' workstations is one way to digitally inspect each workplace and identify, document, and eliminate ergonomic hazards. If your employees can self-resolve issues, this allows the EHS experts to focus on the cases that need their help. However, if they can’t self-resolve these problems, EHS staff can quickly respond to high-risk issues and all reported discomfort incidents.

 

For a firsthand look at how you can leverage technology to empower your employees to proactively protect themselves from office hazards, schedule your free demo today

 

Another graphic advertising the RSIGuard six-month free license.

 

 

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