August 13, 2018

The Plant is Spotless; You’ve Had No Injuries There; What About the Office?

By Paul Bieber

Yup, the office. Many injuries do occur in the office. Lifting a case of paper improperly, tripping over a chair leg that it is sticking into the office walk space and more. Let’s talk about this.

The biggest claims in office worker’s comp are trips and falls. Most occur walking in from the office during winter weather. You plow the parking lot for the trucks to go out and cars to park. But the walkways are where the accidents occur. Statistics back this up and will cost you big bucks when someone turns an ankle or breaks a leg.

Lifting comes next. Your crew in the warehouse and shop wear back braces and are generally strong. Your office staff may not be. Lifting cases of paper for the copier is a huge source of comp claims.

Next is reaching too high for something or using a one- or two-step stool and falling! Set up your storage of office supplies so that a person can reach them easily. Have your plant receiver unload the cases of paper and stack them individually. Assign a person and a back-up to be the office helpers doing the heavy work.

Extension cords running the office are the next biggest cause of accidents. They actually are a no-no under OSHA regs. A trip and fall here definitely will place you under the microscope of an inspection. If you must run an extension, run it along your baseboards, tacked down. If you must cross the room, go up over a door jamb, or higher than a person can reach. Make sure the extension cord is rated correctly for the power you are using. An extension cord that runs over 12 feet needs to be a heavier gauge than an average extension to avoid a fire risk.

Speaking of which, have you trained your team in the office to use a fire extinguisher? You should be doing this at least once a year.

Do you have a defibrillator in the office? Forget the regs on how large you must be to have one. Get one even if you are a small company. They run between $800 and $1,000. It will save a life and that life may be yours! Get training on it when you install. I have taken the course and it runs about two hours. You will learn how to use the defibrillator and how to properly use CPR to help restore a heartbeat. Questions here? Contact the Red Cross at: for training in your area.

I weigh more than an average person so I’m careful going into an office and sitting on a chair that is old and shaky. Make sure your office chairs can hold a heavy person. Sitting on a chair and having it collapse will cost you more than an OSHA visit, as a visitor can sue you where an employee generally cannot.

Enough for now except for one thing. Have your company insurance agent arrange for a visit of your facility by a certified safety instructor. You will learn a lot. You may not do everything an inspector suggests, but the more you do the better off you will be. It used to be that if you brought in a certified instructor and didn’t follow the program laid out, you would be in deeper trouble than if you did nothing. That is yesterday’s news. Today, if there is a problem in your place that you, as an owner or manager, should see and you don’t fix it you are in deep trouble anyway. Take the free advice from your agent.

I hope that you and your entire company are safe!