OSHA ensures that your employer provides as safe a working environment as possible, but that is not enough to keep employees safe. Your employer is also required to provide training and PPE (personal protection equipment) so that you can do what is required to remain safe. This article covers some of the most dangerous office hazards, and how to properly protect yourself from injury.
Non-operator mail cart safety:
OSHA mandates that mail cart operators are required to receive training. However, even if you are not the driver of a mail cart, you are responsible for following safe work practices if you work near mail cart traffic. Make sure the mail cart operator sees you before approaching. Keep clear of the back end of a mail cart, as some steer from the rear. The backs of such mail carts swing wide when making turns. Walk along the side of aisles; let the mail cart have the center. Listen for horn, motor or backup sounds often made by mail cart operators as they travel down office aisles. Never ride on a mail cart. Horseplay on or near a mail cart can be fatal.
Sensible dress and modesty may not be strictly enforced in your workplace, and even if they are, there still arise situations when you could be exposed to sights which could cause irreparable ocular damage. Your employer is required to provide eyewash stations at convenient and well communicated locations throughout your facility. Exposure to overstretched spandex, dangerous levels of cellulite, coworkers digging for nose goblins or undesirable nakedness, in or out of the locker room, can cause serious visual impairment. If exposed to one of these irritants, flush your eyes with water for 15 minutes. Hold your eyelids open during this time. If normal vision does not return within half an hour, seek emergency medical attention.
If your job involves working with chemicals such as Liquid Paper, or Dry Erase Markers, you will receive additional information and training as detailed in your company’s Hazard Communication Program. This includes training on how to read chemical labels and material safely data sheets (MSDSs) and how to properly handle chemicals. Employees who use Dry Erase markers or Liquid Paper, must have training and access to Nitrile gloves and a respirator equipped with an organic vapor cartridge, or must work under a fume hood.
Employees who use staplers, hole punches and staple removers must wear steel toed shoes, goggles, and puncture and cut resistant gloves.
Your company’s Bloodborne Pathogen Program is designed to provide employees with a basic understanding of bloodborne pathogens, common modes of transmission, methods of prevention, and what to do when an exposure occurs. Training for special situations will be provided. Bloodsports are no longer considered acceptable, and dismemberment is strongly discouraged. You should neither drink your own blood nor the blood of your coworkers.
Because confined space entries must be completed with utmost safety, all personnel will receive detailed and specific training on their duties under the company’s confined space entry program. This training will address the proper procedures and PPE required for everything from smoking lounges and crowded elevators to Factory floor restrooms.
Confined spaces may contain hazardous atmospheres or simply lack sufficient workroom to perform necessary tasks. Employees may have to work in areas that contain potentially harmful airborne contaminants. A typical washroom environment could contain dusts, fumes, mists, gases, vapors, or an oxygen-enriched or oxygen-deficient atmosphere. Exposure to toxic or harmful substances, even for a short period of time, can cause serious injury or death.
Persons who are required to wear respirators must receive training on the type of respirator they will be using, including proper use, maintenance, limitations, and medical requirements. Respirator users will be required to be “fit tested” with the type of respirator they will be using. They will also be evaluated by medical personnel to make certain that using a respirator will not harm them.
Repeated improper lifting is the number one cause of back pain in America. As paper capacity has grown, loading paper into the photocopier tray has become the greatest lifting hazard in the office. Safety shoes, cut-proof gloves and a back brace must be used when loading paper into a copier tray. Place your feet apart with one foot slightly forward for stability. Bend at the knees not the waist while keeping your back as straight as possible. Stand as close to the load as possible and grip firmly. Tighten your abdominal muscles as soon as you lift to support your spine.