Common office injuries and how to avoid them

24490420_sNearly every industry in Illinois, and throughout the U.S., relies on the support of administrative, clerical and other office employees to keep businesses running. Like those who work in more hazardous or physically demanding professions, office staff can also suffer a number of injuries in the workplace. According to the estimates from a survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2011, five out of every 100 equivalent full-time workers in the health care and social assistance, 2.1 out of every 100 employees in educational services, and 2.5 administrative and support workers for every 100 were injured in the workplace.

Common office injuries and their causes

Employees who work in an office setting commonly suffer a range of injuries in the workplace, from minor paper cuts to concussions. Office injuries can be caused by any number of factors or accidents. For instance, inadequate lighting, wet floors, open file or desk drawers, loose carpeting or uneven flooring, or electrical cords, commonly cause office workers to fall, slip and trip, which can result in broken bones, sprains or strains, and cuts, among other types of injuries.

Lifting even a stack of files or a box of printer paper without using proper technique can cause muscle strains and sprains, as can pushing and pulling heavy items, over-reaching for an object or item, and repetitive motions, such as answering the phone, for office workers. Additionally, office and administrative workers may suffer concussions, cuts or scrapes, and broken or fractured bones, as a result of workplace accidents, such as bumping their heads, or other body parts, on drawers, desks or other office equipment, or being struck by falling objects, or items that are otherwise airborne.

How to avoid common office injuries

Although not every accident can be avoided, there are some safety precautions that can help limit the risks. The measures that employees, and employers, can use to help reduce injuries to office workers include the following:

  • Keep walkways clear of clutter, cords and other hazards.
  • Completely close file cabinet and desk drawers when they are not in use.
  • Practice good lifting techniques and use appropriate equipment, or get help, for larger loads.
  • Use proper ergonomics to create fitted, functional workstations. 

While the hazards office employees face may differ from those faced by workers in other fields, the results can be the same. It may be of benefit for anyone who has suffered a work-related injury in an office setting to discuss his or her situation with an attorney to ensure they receive the compensation that person is due.