Ergonomic Standing Desks and Chairs

"Best Standing Desk" - Techradar, for 3 Years Running | Free Shipping | 30 Day Free Returns

Unseen Hazards of "Low-Hazard" Industries

06 November 2022

There will always be some safety and health risks, no matter where you work. Office managers do their best to eliminate potential hazards and create a comfortable environment for employees, but some risks cannot be avoided. For example, improper posture while sitting at a desk all day can lead to musculoskeletal issues. While these risks may not be as severe as being exposed to the elements or working with dangerous machinery, they are still important to be aware of.

OSHA and other concerned bodies still receive thousands of workplace incidents and accident reports in low-hazard industries. Slips, trips, and falls account for many such cases, but there are also many serious accidents, and some even go unreported. Some invisible threats include poor ergonomics, air quality, lighting, noise pollution, and malfunctioning equipment.

This barely scratches the surface, as the threat horizon is endless. But fortunately, you can avoid such dangers by learning more about them. As they say, "He, who is forewarned, is forearmed." Today we'd like to give you that ammunition in the form of a list of the most common Unseen Hazards of "Low-Hazard" Industries.

So, buckle up as we learn how to identify and eliminate these invisible threats.


Eyestrain

As anyone who has spent a few hours working on a computer can attest, staring at a screen for too long can lead to eyestrain. Besides the temporary discomfort, prolonged exposure to blue light from screens can lead to migraines and even permanent vision loss. In addition, office workers are often exposed to poor lighting conditions, which can exacerbate the problem.

You can fix this by opening the blinds in your workspace to let natural light into the space. But remember that too much natural light can have a glaring effect on the eyes, so try and strike the right balance. Lower the blinds and curtains during brighter days, and open them when you're short of sufficient lighting.

You can also add some desk lamps if your office doesn't get enough sunlight, especially on dull and overcast days.

Other measures you can take include:

Adjust the brightness and contrast settings on your laptop's screen or computer monitor to reduce glare.

Position your computer screen so that it is at eye level. This will help you avoid having to strain your neck and shoulders while you work.

Change font sizes to suit your vision, i.e., smaller fonts if you're farsighted and vice versa for nearsighted people.

Use artificial tears if your eyes feel dry.

OSHA also recommends resting your eyes for 10 minutes for each hour of deep work. This may be impractical if you have a very hectic day, in which case, you can use the 20-20-20 rule to protect yourself from eye strain.

Just set a timer for 20 minutes and when it goes off, take 20 seconds to look at something 20 feet away.


Slips, Trips, and Falls

You're as likely to suffer a nasty trip or fall, whether you're a factory worker or disk jockey. According to the labor bureau, slips, trips, and falls account for 18% of all workplace accidents. Often resulting in workers needing 14 days off work for recovery.

Wet office floors are often the culprit. That's why janitors insist on placing those yellow warning signs. Other effective ways to prevent slips, trips, and falls can include:

Install anti-skid mats or carpeting at entrances and indoor walkways

Clipp electric cables to surfaces or hide them beneath carpets

Make sure rugs and carpets are securely fastened to the floor. Loose mats can be a trip hazard.

Wear shoes that have good traction

Use nightlights to illuminate dark areas

Maintain clutter and debris-free floors

Replace broken tiles and floorings

Workplace training can also help reduce such incidents.


RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)

RSI is often seen as a "low-hazard" injury because it doesn't happen all at once - it builds up over time.

RSI is a type of injury that occurs when the muscles, tendons, and ligaments are used over and over again in the same way, causing the tissue to become irritated and inflamed

RSI commonly affects the back, neck, shoulders, arms, and other moveable joints. It is often caused by the misuse of computers, smartphones, office furniture, and other equipment. Even how you hold your mouse can cause micro tears of the ligament, which causes swelling and reduces your motion range.

Fortunately, you can use OSHA's ergonomic guidelines to help achieve the ideal workstation setup. Here are other measures to help you stay ahead of this invisible threat:

Align your ergonomic office chair with your desktop, keyboard, and monitor

Adjust your chair back to allow you to sit up straight and in a neutral posture

Use your armrests to offset the weight your shoulders bare

Get an adjustable keyboard tray if your desktop is too narrow. This enhances your comfort for typing and mouse operation.

Ensure your feet rest firmly on the floor by adjusting the chair to the appropriate height

Take frequent breaks from your workstation.

Office workers spend too much time on their seats. This seemingly harmless activity stresses your back, shoulders, and other core muscles. So the solution is to take a break from sitting. You can get a height-adjustable desk, which allows you to periodically stand and stretch.

That way, you won't have to readjust your equipment setup anytime you want to sit or stand.


Falling Objects

In many cases, these accidents are caused by careless or negligent practices, such as stacking boxes too high or failing to secure them properly in overhead storage. So it's not an only warehouse and other back-room workers that should be cautious of such hazards. For instance, bulky paper rims can tumble off a shelf if not correctly stored.

There are several ways to prevent falling object accidents. First and foremost, it is important to ensure that all items are properly stored and secured. This means keeping them away from edges and ensuring that they are not overloaded or unstable. Secondly, employees should be trained on how to safely work around potential falling object hazards.

Some other simple measures that can be taken include storing items on lower shelves, using warning signs and barriers around potential hazards, conducting regular safety audits, and finally, always wearing appropriate safety gear, such as hard hats or safety glasses, when working in an environment where falling objects could be a hazard.


Sick Building Syndrome (SBS)

SBS is a condition where people develop asthmatic symptoms and other chronic conditions in the building where they work or reside. Most people chalk it up to poor sanitary conditions. But, it's often a sign of design flaws, poor aerodynamics, and low-quality building materials.

Aside from respiratory issues, it can also lead to allergies and chemical sensitivity among staffers. Other causes of SBS include:

Ill-maintained ventilation ducts and systems

Overcrowding

High traces of chemicals like lead paint or asbestos

Water damage

Mold, dust, and mildew accumulation

Accumulation of food waste

You can prevent SBS by insisting on frequent maintenance of office buildings. Take a particular focus on mold removal, waste disposal, and cleaning heating and air cooling systems. This helps remove most irritants that cause infections.

On the other hand, dust, pollen, and other granular irritants are hard to eliminate. So, it may be wise to step up your office cleaning, especially on carpeted surfaces. This measure will reduce dirt and grime accumulations that harm your workers.


Noise Pollution

Most office workers aren't exposed to loud (high-frequency noises). Noise pollution usually comes from loud co-workers and the repetitive droning of TVs, fans, and other office equipment. Some office workers may also be adjacent to industrial equipment.

Such circumstances may seem harmless on the surface. However, being repetitively exposed to such an environment may lead to industrial deafness. The penalties are gradual, so your organization may need to pay large disability settlements down the line.

You can prevent this by offering earmuffs or noise-canceling headphones to the affected employees. The upfront cost is minor compared to covering disability claims for various staffers for years.


Disunity among Workers

A little competition among workmates isn't destructive – It heightens the passion for more outstanding results. But, sometimes, it can be counter-productive, especially when people don't get along. The weight of all this stress and unresolved differences can result in something gruesome.

People can erupt into verbal or physical confrontations and disrupt your office operations. Aside from the mental and emotional damage, people can even end up in the ER. Sure, HR and management can't prevent all altercations, but you can also come up with some dispute resolution protocols to handle such incidences.

Conflict resolution, sensitivity training, and workshops with a similar theme can also help. Here, the goal is to give your workers the tools to handle such issues constructively – Instead of erupting into fisticuffs at the slightest provocation.


Fire Hazards

According to the NFPA, local U.S. fire departments responded to 3,340 office-related fires between 2007 and 2012. Such fires caused an annual average of 4 fatalities, untold injuries, and over $112 million in property loss. The key to reducing fire hazards is routine inspections of the following areas:

Regular inspections for wear and tear on plugs and power cords, and replacing any exposed wires or damaged parts.

Replace faulty fuses and overloaded circuit brakes

Never overload extension cables with too many electronics

Replace a power cord if any of the prongs are damaged or missing.

Aside from that, ensure all commercial-used appliances meet industrial standards and have automatic shut-off features. It would help if you considered placing office equipment near overhead sprinklers. And fire exits should also be marked.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is some potential risk when operating in low-hazard industries, and it can be expensive should it occur. Fortunately, you can minimize them and ensure your workers' safety with these tips. You can also reinforce these measures with workplace training and frequent safety drills.