Avoiding Common Office Injuries

In office settings, your employees might frequently, and without much thought, lift stacks of paper, move chairs to and from conference rooms, carry heavy computer bags to meetings, quickly open supply drawers, and leave cabinet doors open. All these actions, although common to most workplaces, can present risk. Two of the most costly types of injuries suffered by employees are those involving manual materials handling and being struck by or against objects.

The following checklist can help you evaluate, develop, and implement practices to help reduce the frequency and severity of injuries.

Manual Materials Handling

When it comes to carrying, moving, or handling materials, your employees should:

  • Work only within their capabilities so as not to trigger or aggravate low back pain.
  • Use carts and other equipment to handle heavy materials.
  • Work in teams to plan routes and move heavy materials.
  • Inspect materials for nails or other projections before handling them.
  • Get a good grip when carrying materials.
  • Leave enough room to be able to turn their feet instead of their hips or shoulders.
  • Choose the lifting-and-carrying position that feels best.
  • Carry the load as close to the body as possible.
  • Avoid jerky movements and twisting and bending at the same time.
  • Avoid placing objects on the ground if they must be picked up later.

Struck by or Against Objects

Even the smallest task, such as opening a door or file cabinet drawer, can result in injury. Workers should:

  • Keep cabinet doors closed when not using them.
  • Organize hallways, offices, and conference rooms to allow for sufficient space between walls, furniture, boxes, and other equipment.
  • Plan lifts and routes in advance, to avoid striking against equipment.
  • Use handles to open doors and drawers, to prevent fingers from getting pinched.
  • Open doors carefully to avoid striking other people or objects.
  • Secure desks and cabinets.
  • Avoid leaving multiple cabinet drawers open simultaneously.
  • Perform housekeeping regularly to remove debris and clutter.

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The illustrations, instructions, and principles in this material are general in scope and, to the best of our knowledge, current at the time of publication. No attempt has been made to interpret any referenced codes, standards, or regulations nor to identify all potential risks or requirements.