When people think of workplace accidents, they often imagine catastrophic injuries caused by heavy machinery or speeding vehicles. Unfortunately, Illinois office workers also face a considerable risk of injury on the job. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which keeps careful records of all job-related injuries and illnesses, reported 104,300 serious injuries in American offices during the year 2011. This adds up to 2.5 injuries per 1000 employees, a higher annual rate of incidence than found in traditionally dangerous industries such as coal manufacturing (1.7 injuries per 1000 employees) or rail transportation (1.9 injuries per 1000 employees.)
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What are the major hazards faced by office workers?
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, most office injuries fall into one of the following four categories:
- Slip and fall injuries
- Back injuries from improper lifting of large items
- Crushing injuries or electrical shocks from office equipment
- Repetitive trauma caused by faulty ergonomics
All of these common hazards in the office can lead to serious and disabling injuries.
Avoiding the risk of sudden injury in the office
Some of the risk factors for office injuries are largely avoidable. Many slip and fall accidents occur during the winter months, when outside stairs may be covered with ice and indoor floors are often wet. Proper building maintenance and cleaning is crucial for the health of office workers. All equipment must be kept in good condition to decrease the risk of injury from a sudden electrical malfunction. Storerooms and closets must be organized carefully and cleaned regularly to avoid life-threatening head injuries from falling boxes and other heavy objects.
Keeping an eye on ergonomics
Many office injuries are the result of incorrect ergonomic procedures. Employees should always follow the guidelines set out by OSHA for lifting heavy equipment. Just one incorrect lift can cause a severe back injury with lasting consequences. Workers can minimize the hazard of repetitive trauma by setting up ergonomically correct workstations, taking breaks at appropriate times and adjusting equipment to cut down on physical strain. Every employee has the right to a safe, comfortable and well-designed workstation. If employers are not in compliance with the appropriate regulations, the unsafe working conditions should be reported to OSHA immediately.
Office work can be hazardous and stressful. Illinois law is designed to safeguard the rights of office professionals and provide compensation for injured workers. To find out more about your options, get in touch with an attorney today.