Find out what hazards office workers should watch out for and how Georgia employees can prevent office injuries
Offices across the state of Georgia are routinely inspected for safety regulation compliance due to hazardous work conditions and injury claims. While offices aren’t typically thought of as dangerous work environments, the reality is that office employees often encounter areas without slip and fall warnings, cracks in the stairs and other imperfections that lead to serious injuries and accidents.
All Georgia employers must provide a safe workplace for their workers, according to the guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If you have ever filed a complaint with OSHA, then you know how this organization helps workers by forcing employers to create safer workplace conditions.
What are the most common injuries that office employees report?
7 common office hazards and causes of injury
Safety in the office should be a primary concern for every company. Here are some common hazards in the office.
1. Slip and fall accidents
If there’s ice on the sidewalk, you likely avoid walking on that patch unless you have the right shoes. But how do you know to avoid a slippery surface at work if there’s no sign of water or a hazard cone? If employers don’t take precautions to prevent slippery floors and other hazards, they can be held liable for your injuries.
Rolling office chairs, ladders, exposed wires, chords and cracks in the floor are all tripping hazards that can lead to serious slip and fall injuries.
2. Strain and ergonomic injuries
Have you worked for 6 to 8 hours in a chair that hurts your back or with a screen that hurts your eyes? These are called ergonomic injuries, and they are another one of the most common office injuries. Employees who spend too much time sitting in an uncomfortable chair may develop back problems and injuries, causing fatigue, weakness, numbness, joint pain and sight loss.
It’s important that employers provide supportive furniture, adjustable equipment and safe computer screens to prevent these types of injuries. If your employer has refused to do this over a number of years, the company could be held liable for an unsafe working environment.
3. Toxins, poor air quality and unsafe environment
Some offices in Georgia don’t have air conditioning, even when it’s incredibly hot. This is done to preserve energy and reduce utility bills. However, employees who work in these offices may experience poor air quality and uncomfortable conditions that cause injuries. Office workers may also become ill when exposed to cleaning agents, pesticides, toner and other gases that are commonly released in the office.
If employers do not provide warnings to stay out of the office during periods where toxic fumes are in the building, or if air conditioning is refused during extreme temperatures, a claim can be made for workplace injuries resulting in these oversights.
4. Eye strain
Many people work all day on computers, devices and screens that can cause eye strain. Eye strain is not typically prioritized by safety organizations, but it’s increasingly becoming a serious issue. Employees should get 10-minute breaks from their computer each hour. Workers should also be told to look at 3D objects at different visual depths to ensure that their eyes get a break from looking at screens.
In addition, computers should be placed at a 2-foot distance from where employees sit at their desks. Screen protectors and other equipment can also be provided to protect employees’ eyes.
5. Burn injuries and fire hazards
Office fires are responsible for millions of dollars in damage and severe burn injuries every year. Whether the fire is caused by a split power cord or a malfunctioning plug, office fires can seriously injure or even kill an employee. One of the most common causes of a fire is space heaters near computer equipment or other fire hazards.
Employers must instruct employees on how to use fire extinguishers to satisfy OSHA requirements.
6. Heavy lifting and overexertion
If your office job includes lifting, pushing or pulling heavy objects manually, then you could suffer small strains every day that you don’t notice. In other cases, these activities could cause a painful injury, such as throwing your back out or breaking a bone.
Research shows that the most work lost is due to mishandling, poor lifting procedures or bad practices while carrying a heavy object. If you were instructed to lift something despite it being unsafe or you not being trained on how to properly lift, your employer may be held responsible.
Manual handling injuries can be prevented. It’s important that you remind others on your team to use heavy lifting aids like dollies. Your employer should provide safety procedures and equipment to ensure that you don’t handle items that are too heavy. Instead, these should be lifted with a power loader or lifting aid.
7. Falling objects
Offices can be quite old, and ceiling tiles, lights and shelving units often deteriorate after years of neglect. If you are injured because of an object striking you at work, this accident is covered under workers’ compensation. Employers should do their best to keep working conditions safe, which means inspecting office equipment and repairing or replacing items that could lead to injuries.
Do office injuries qualify for workers’ compensation in Georgia?
Many people mistakenly think that workers’ compensation is only available to workplace injuries that happen in more traditionally dangerous professions such as construction work or transportation. However, Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act covers most workers in the state — including office workers.
Need help with your workers’ compensation claim in Georgia? Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys are here to help you. Talk to us about your experience and we’ll see how we can help your case.