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Office Safety: Top Common Occupational Injuries and How to Prevent Them

  • December 23, 2021

Man in hard hat looking at tablet

Unfortunately, workplace injuries are all too common. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are approximately 2.8 million nonfatal injuries in the workplace annually. 

Some of them are unavoidable. However, there are many common occupational injuries you can avoid when you focus on wellness in the workplace. Here are some office safety recommendations that can help you prevent getting injured while on the job.

Top Occupational Injuries (and How to Prevent Them)

Workplace injuries occur in every industry. Working in an office environment is less hazardous than working in manufacturing, law enforcement, or healthcare. Yet, there are still several office-related injuries workers encounter.

What are some of the most common occupational injuries? Let’s take a moment to review them.

1. Slips, Trips and Falls

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the most common occupational-related injury workers sustain while on the job. Those working in an office are even more likely to suffer these injuries than non-office workers. In fact, they are 2 to 2.5 times more like to injure themselves by falling. 

Common causes for these falls include:

  • Reaching while sitting in an unstable chair
  • Slipping on a wet floor
  • Tripping on loose carpets or flooring, cords, open drawers, or walkway obstructions
  • Poor lighting and visibility
  • Standing on a chair instead of a safety ladder

The best method to avoid slips, trips, and falls is to encourage safety practices throughout the office. Make sure there are ladders available in places where employees must reach items on top of tall shelves. 

Be focused when you walk or are going up or down stairs. Use this time to stretch and/or communicate with others, and avoid being distracted on your mobile device. Distractions and unfocused individuals can easily become injured.

Ensure that you tuck all electrical cords away behind desks or under safety strips. Keep walkways free from obstructions, and have maintenance repair any loose carpeting or flooring. 

Encourage employees to report any safety hazards that could lead to falls. You can even dedicate days focused on safety awareness and prevention education around the office.

2. Overexertion and Muscle Strains

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over $15 billion in workers’ compensation costs result from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Situations that lead to these conditions include (but are not limited to):

  • Sitting in awkward and unsupported positions
  • Repetitive motions that irritate tendons and cause nerve pressure
  • Straining neck to look at incorrectly positioned computer monitors 
  • Static and improper postures 
  • Lack of breaks

One of the leading causes of workplace injuries from MSDs is ergonomically incorrect workstations. Creating a work environment that adapts tasks, tools, and workstations to fit workers' needs can reduce stress and strain on their bodies. 

By focusing on ergonomic wellness, workers can eliminate work-related MSDs that have the potential to be seriously disabling. In doing so, you can reduce the risks of encountering some of the more common MSDs, which include: 

Wrist MSDs

These MSDs occur from long hours of repetitively using your mouse and typing on a keyboard. They often lead to: 

  • Carpal Tunnel
  • Golfers Elbow
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Tendonitis

A couple of products that can help prevent these are vertical mice, finger-operated trackballs, and ergonomic keyboards. These ergonomic desk accessories are designed to make your office setup comfortable.

Neck MSDs

These MSDs occur when employees engage in activities that strain the soft tissue of the neck, such as muscles, ligaments, and joints. It causes pain, spasms, and neck stiffness. 

As mentioned above, an incorrectly positioned monitor leads to neck strains. Raising computer monitors or laptop screens to the appropriate level with a laptop riser, monitor arm, or monitor stand is key to preventing neck MSDs.

Back MSDs

On average, 80% of adults experience chronic lower back pain at some point throughout their lives. Back MSDs are one of the causes of chronic back pain. 

Having your back and feet properly supported with a footrest, and lumbar support is the most effective way to prevent these injuries. Also, leaning back into your chair and using proper posture (versus hunching or leaning forward) will reduce the chances of enduring these injuries.

3. Struck by Equipment, Falling Objects, or Co-Workers

Everyone has struck a counter's sharp edge or walked into a wall while at the office. While these injuries are embarrassing, they are often not serious.

However, there are times when being struck by office equipment, falling objects, or careless co-workers pushing a cart can lead to significant injuries. Other situations that lead to these injuries include:

  • Loads that are dropped
  • Heavy equipment tipping over
  • Running into an object or equipment
  • Being pushed, either accidentally or through negligence
  • Falling instruments or materials

Fortunately, these mishaps are preventable by remaining aware of your surroundings. It is also essential to follow safety policies and procedures set into place. You can also avoid injuries from these situations by removing unnecessary hazards.

4. Exposure to Hazardous Environments or Substances

In the office, it is uncommon to be surrounded by dangerous materials typical to those who work in manufacturing or other industrial jobs. However, there are still substances in the office setting that get labeled hazardous such as cleaning supplies or janitorial chemicals.

For that reason, managers need to ensure their staff has access to chemical safety data sheets if they will be encountering these chemicals. Sanitation stations provided to help employees decontaminate their workstations are an excellent place to keep these datasheets. 

 It is also a good idea to ensure that every member of your staff knows the signs and symptoms of situations like bleach poisoning, chemical burns, or other adverse reactions to chemicals. 

Kensington is Focused on Health and Wellness in the Workplace

At Kensington, our goal is to provide essential business tools to help you be more confident, comfortable, and productive at work. We know that by making products that focus on ergonomic wellness, we can help you prevent some of the more common workplace injuries. 

Whether you work from home or in the office, we have the latest devices that are efficient, effective, and easy to use. Our ergo experts can help you determine the best solutions to avoid occupational injuries. 

Are you concerned with how to avoid some of the most common workplace injuries? Contact us today to speak to one of our ergo experts.