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Safety in the Office During Tremors or Earthquakes

01 June 2021

Earthquakes are a natural occurrence that people usually don’t think about until it happens. However, as more people are living and working in urban areas, being prepared and educated regarding this phenomenon is a necessary means and skill for survival.

 Most office workers stay in high rise buildings and although we could almost always trust that the management and the government do their job in certifying and making sure that the buildings we are in are safe, it would also not hurt for us to ensure our own personal safety wherever we are in. After all, it is still our foremost responsibility apart from the fact that we would be the ones who will suffer most if we stay uninformed. 

 The Science Behind an Earthquake 

An earthquake occurs when two blocks of the earth called plates slip with one another. That earth's surface where the two meets is called a fault. In this particular place of occurrence, the surface above it is called the epicenter while the one below is called the hypocenter. 

 There are also three categories in which an earthquake is divided according to when it happens and how big it is. The first one is the foreshock. It is a small quake that happens prior to a large earthquake. Usually, scientists are not able to predict if it is a stand-alone earthquake or just a small warning for something worse coming. 

The next one would be the mainshock. This is the largest and distinctive kind of earthquake that occurs. Additionally, usually, if there is a large mainshock, an aftershock would happen. Aftershocks are usually more or less the same size as a foreshock but a lot smaller than the main shock. The most distinctive characteristic of an aftershock is it can occur any time after the main earthquake. This may take a few hours, a few days, weeks, months, or even years. 

There are four layers of the earth. These are called the inner, outer, mantle, and last but not the least, the crust. The crust is the outermost surface of the planet. it is the ground that we walk on. These are all the earth's layers but it is not all in one place nor is it only divided only by islands or countries. 

The land on earth is made up of a lot of pieces called tectonic plates. The edges of these plates are the plate boundaries. These plate boundaries consist of many faults which are constantly moving. These edges are rough and thus would get stuck as the plates move. There would be a time when a plate moves farther and thus would not be able to stay stuck, this is when an earthquake occurs. 

We cannot emphasize how important it is to know the safety procedure in the office regarding earthquakes. That said, we will divide the things that you can do to stay safe during this natural disaster. We will tackle what must be done before an earthquake even occurs, during the time it happens, and after the disaster. 

 When an Earthquake Happens  

The key to remember here is preparedness. You should be able to remember the evacuation plan and key areas to pass through in case of emergency. Safety drills are usually scheduled every year by your employer so everyone is on the same page. There are also potential hazards in the office that must be ensured and placed in a way that would ensure safety.

 Examples of these are shelves that can easily fall on people, heavy objects on the wall like wall decors and paintings, and fire extinguishers that must be placed out of the way and not in a way that may fall on people's heads. Office equipment like copy machines and computers must also be stored in a way that can be used but would inhibit movement or falls during earthquakes. This is most important if the place of work is in a high potential for earthquake occurrence.  

During an Earthquake

The most important thing here is recognition of an earthquake and calmness to remember safety protocols and to follow it. If an evacuation plan is enforced make sure everyone is accounted for and knows what the plan is on how to get to safety. If the earthquake is too large, then you can opt to Drop, Cover and Hold. Drop is to get into the position on the floor on your knees and hands on the ground.

 This would help you to be protected from being knocked down and also avoid swinging hazards like broken light fixtures that may be a risk for electrocution. In this position, you can crawl towards safety or stay under your desk. 

Cover on the other hand is the position where you protect your head from injuries with your arms and hands. You can take cover underneath a sturdy desk for shelter away from the window which might shatter and injure you. Bend over and protect the soft parts of your body most especially your vital organs. 

Hold on is keeping your cover position until the shaking subsides and you can go towards a safe area and out of the building. Always be ready to move if the shelter that you took is compromised, shifts or breaks. 

 After an Earthquake

After a major earthquake, it is important to check yourself for injuries. Usually, adrenaline is pumped into our bloodstream that we seem to not feel if there is something wrong or if we have a cut or fracture. As mentioned above, aftershocks are almost always a sure occurrence after a main earthquake. So go home only if it is deemed safe to do so. 

At FlexiSpot, it is something that is kept in mind during the design and conceptualization process of a product. The Adjustable Standing Desk Pro Series EC5 is a great example of this. It can carry up to 220 lbs of weight and has an anti-collision system so you can duck, cover and hold underneath when an earthquake occurs. It also has a highly customizable frame that could give you more legroom if needed. This standing desk is multi-functional so that even during natural calamities, it could serve another purpose.