Are you sitting comfortably at your computer screen in a lovely safe, risk free office? Think there’s no likelihood of an accident at your work desk unless you’re careless with your stapler or a keyboard key detaches itself and flies up into your coffee mug?
You may have to think again! Injury claims for office accidents are on the rise. According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) there were 115,000 injuries reported under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) between 2010 and 2011. However, a Labour Force Survey (LFS) found that 200,000 reportable injuries (based on more than a 3 day absence from work) occurred over the same period.
Other analysts suggest that injury compensation claims could also show a gradual increase in accidents taking place in office environments over the last decade. The International Labour Office (ILO) state that non-fatal occupational accidents now account for over two million office related injuries and illnesses each year, worldwide.
Undoubtedly, there has been a significant increase in reported stress-related illnesses, allergies and other symptoms claimed to be due to working in office environments. However, injuries caused by actual physical accidents are less likely to be reported simply because they are not expected to happen in an office. There can also simply be a fear of admitting to being a victim of a petty accident, such as tripping in a stairwell, stubbing a toe against a fire extinguisher or cutting a finger when changing photocopier toner.
Untidy offices where cardboard storage boxes, banker boxes, filing trays and all manner of papers, files, books and manuals are piled up precariously high on the floor, desks and shelves are the most likely source of an accident waiting to happen. There can be problems with untidy computer cables. Most ‘cable tidy’ systems soon unravel and the rubber nosing, laid unevenly and curling up across an office floor, is more likely to cause rather than prevent staff from tripping up.
More hazards lurk in the kitchen area where electrical shorts and even fires can be started by the malfunctioning or incorrect use of a toaster. It can be quite incredible how soon electrical switch panels seem to work themselves loose from new-build office walls and reports of shocks being felt whenever touched!
Probably the daddy of all everyday accidents at the office may simply be a choice between being hit full on in the face when a heavy to push corridor door swings back unexpectedly or the swivel seat at your own desk simply collapses when you attempt to sit down first thing in the morning!