Falls and Back Strains
The most common types of accidents in offices are falls and back strains from overexertion.
In many cases these injuries are caused by the arrangement of storage and office furniture
or articles left on the floor. To help avoid these type injuries the following safety
considerations should be included in the arrangement plan for the office.
- Arrange furniture so that aisles will not be obstructed by items such as electric
cords, outlets, telephone cords, trashcans and open files drawers. Also avoid creating
aisles with blind corners if possible.
- Arrange files and storage so that frequently used or heavy material is easy to get
to without repetitive and excessive bending, reaching, climbing, or twisting and lifting
at the same time. Minimize the distance you are required to carry heavy objects.
Video Display Terminals (VDT'S)
Various vision and musculoskeletal problems have been associated with extended use
of video display terminals. To minimize these problems it is important that each workstation
be designed to reduce stress and that adequate breaks from VDT use be taken:
- The distance from the screen to your eyes should be only slightly greater than the
distance you normally maintain between reading material and your eyes. The viewing
angle should be within 10 degrees of your eye level.
- Seat contours should follow the contours of your back. Adjust chair height so that
you don't feel pressure on your tailbone (seat too low) or lower thighs (seat too
high). If you must use a high seat use a footrest.
- Position your chair and keyboard to minimize reaches and so that the height is comfortable.
If you often look at paper documents when you work, use a copy stand, mounted so that
it puts your work in the same plane and at the same height as your screen.
- Avoid cradling a telephone between your neck and shoulders when talking and keying
in. Use a headset.
- Use wrist support pads and keep the wrist in a neutral position.
- Avoid facing windows at your terminal.
- Lighting for frequent computer users should be 50% of the level for normal office
lighting. Don't place the workstation directly underneath overhead lighting.
- If you can't control glare in your office use a filter screen for Macintosh use a
"high light transmission" filter.
- A 15 minute break is to be taken after two hours of continuous VDT work under moderate
Frequent breaks are to be taken for every hour for jobs that require more than four
hours of viewing time, constant rapid muscular action, fixed positions for extended
periods of time or for jobs that are highly repetitive. This should be accomplished
by supervisors scheduling alternative work assignments.
Employees whose job duties include constant VDT use exceeding 4 hours a day are required
to attend a training session on VDT use. This program is provided by the Safety Officer.
Employees who experience vision or musculoskeletal problems they feel is associated
with VDT use should report these problems to the University Health Service.
Small Heating Appliances
The most significant fire hazard in offices is associated with small cooking and heating
appliances frequently used. Often these appliances overload circuits or are accidentally
left on overnight.
Adequate clearance from combustibles such as paper must be maintained around space
heaters and cooking appliances. In general, space heaters should not be connected
to extension cords and should not be used near flammable liquids such as duplicating
fluids, alcohol base cleaners, rubber cement. etc.
Most importantly, an employee within the office should be assigned to assure that
small appliances are turned off or unplugged at the end of the workday.
Storage in Mechanical Equipment Rooms or Hallways
For fire safety reasons excess office and classroom supplies and furniture are not
to be placed in building mechanical equipment rooms, electrical closets, hallways,
stairways or attics.
Extension cords are permitted only with portable appliances or fixtures. While in
- Each extension cord shall be plugged directly into an approved receptacle and shall,
except for approved multiplying extension cords, serve only one appliance or fixture.
- The current capacity of the cord shall not be less than the rated capacity of the
appliance or fixture.
- The extension cord shall be maintained in good condition without splices, deterioration
- The extension cord shall be of the grounded type when servicing grounded appliances
Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be affixed to structures, extended through
walls, ceiling floors, under doors or floor coverings, nor be subject to environmental
damaging physical impact.The use of multiplug unfused cube adapters is prohibited.
A minimum of 30 inches of clearance shall be provided in front of electrical control
panels for access.
- Only listed electrical lights and wiring shall be used on Christmas trees and similar
- Open flame shall not be located on or within the height of the Christmas tree or other
similar combustible materials.
- Natural cut Christmas trees shall not be located near heating vents or other fixed
or portable heating devices that could cause the tree to dry out or to be ignited.
- When installing them indoors, natural cut Christmas trees shall have the bottom end
of the truck cut off at least one half inch above the end to help the tree absorb
water. The tree shall be placed in a suitable stand with adequate water. The water
level shall be checked and maintained on a daily basis. The tree shall be removed
from the building immediately upon evidence of dryness.