The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) suggests conducting a workplace safety audit in an effort to reduce accidents and injuries whether it be in a company office building or a home office.
"With the constant change in technology, new products and the rapid pace of the world marketplace, it is extremely important for employers and their bottom line to integrate safety into all components of a business plan and operations," said Samuel Gualardo, CSP, ASSE president. "This is especially true when addressing ways to make the office and workplace safer, in effect reducing injuries, risk and loss costs."
To increase safety in the workplace, ASSE recommends addressing the following:
- A chair should have a five point star base for stability, an adjustable backrest that provides lumbar support and an adjustable seat pan. If armrests are provided, they should be padded, adjustable up and down, in and out and swivel. The edge of the seat pan should be at least 4 inches from the soft tissue area behind the knee.
- The top of a computer display screen should be slightly below eye level (20 degrees).
- A document holder that is the same height and distance from the user as the display screen should be provided when the primary task is data entry.
- A keyboard should be detachable and adjustable to allow straight/parallel hand-forearm posture. This is often accomplished using a wrist rest. ASSE experts recommend that the height of the wrist rest should equal the home row key height and fingers on the home row of a keyboard should be approximately zero to 1.5 inches above the elbow rest height.
- For lighting and glare, the characters on the computer screen should be brighter than the screen background. Bright light sources in the peripheral field of the computer screen should be avoided. The computer screen should be positioned to avoid glare.
- For posture, the head should be tilted 15 degrees forward or less to maintain a vertical position. The elbows should be kept close to the body or supported. The lumbar curve of the back should be maintained.
- Dry eye can occur because people tend to blink less when viewing monitors. Due to this, fatigue can also set in.
If the office is at home, ASSE recommends the following:
- be wary of falls that could occur when reaching high shelves and storage, and tripping hazards;
- floor surfaces should be in good condition;
- avoid heated surfaces such as coffee makers, hot plates and portable heaters in the office as they could trigger a fire;
- have a licensed electrician inspect the existing home electrical system and upgrade it if necessary to assure the current protection and load will meet electricity demands;
- use a hand-held cart when moving heavy boxes; and
- move desks closer to power outlets and phone jacks.
by Virginia Sutcliffe