Office Safety

1. Introduction

a) The following sections provide general safety guidelines and procedures for office safety. ESCO Safety will perform, at minimum, one office inspection annually. The inspection will be documented on the ESCO Group Office Inspection Checklist and retained for a minimum of five years.

2. Chairs

a) Safety guidelines for office chairs include the following:

i. Do not lean back in office chairs, particularly swivel chairs with rollers.

ii. Do not use a chair for a step stool, get the proper ladder.

iii. Office desk chairs should have adjustable back supports and seat height. Make sure that your chair's back support position and seat height are comfortable.

iv. Take care when sitting in a chair with rollers. Make sure it does not roll out from under you when you sit down.

v. Repair or report any chair damage that could be hazardous.

vi. Do not roll chairs over electrical cords.

3. Desks

a) Follow these safety guidelines for office desks:

i. Keep desks in good condition (i.e., free from sharp edges, nails, etc.).

ii. Ensure that desks do not block exits or passageways.

iii. Do not climb on desks. Use an approved ladder.

iv. Keep desk drawers closed when not in use.

v. Repair or report any desk damage that could be hazardous.

4. Electrical

a) Ensure that electrical cords and phone cords do not cross walkways or otherwise pose a tripping hazard. If you cannot move a cord, have a new outlet installed or secure the cord to the floor with cord covering strips. Do not tape cords down or run them underneath carpet.

b) All electrical cords shall be inspected routinely and kept in good working condition. Damaged cords and plugs shall be repaired or replaced immediately. Equipment that requires grounding must be of the three-wire grounded-connection type; do not at any time remove the ground prong. Extension cords must be of the heavy three-wired type and not the flat type of cords. Extension cords must not be used to replace permanent wiring. All extension and power cords should be kept out of aisles and other walking or working areas and must not present a tripping hazard. 

5. Entrances

a) All entryways and exits shall be clean, dry, and clear of all obstructions. Use mats at entryways on wet days. If entryways and/or sidewalks need to be cleaned due to inclement weather (shoveled, salted, and/or sanded) contact the ESCO Shop.

6. File Cabinets/Shelves

a) Follow these guidelines for file cabinets and shelves:

i. Ensure that file cabinet drawers cannot easily be pulled clear of the cabinet.

ii. Do not block ventilation grates with file cabinets or shelves.

iii. Open only one drawer at a time to keep the cabinet from toppling over.

iv. Close drawers when they are not in use.

v. Do not place heavy objects on top of cabinets. Be aware that anything on top of a cabinet may fall off if a drawer is opened suddenly.

vi. Close drawers slowly using the handle to avoid pinched fingers.

vii. Keep the bottom drawer full. This will help stabilize the entire cabinet.

viii. Place heavy objects on the bottom shelves. This will keep the entire structure more stable. 

ix. Ensure that there is at least 18 inches between the top shelf items and the ceiling. This space will allow for ceiling sprinklers (if present) to function properly if a fire occurs. 

x. Never climb on shelves (even lower shelves). Use an approved ladder.

7. Hazardous Material

a) Hazardous chemicals and materials should not be stored at the office. Hazardous materials include, but are not limited to, the following: adhesives, aerosols, paint, flammables, gases and oils.

8. Ladders

a) Always use an approved ladder or step stool to reach any item above your extended arm height. Never use a chair, desktop, file cabinet, bookshelf, box, or a bucket as a substitute for a ladder.

b) Follow these guidelines when using ladders:

i. Do not load a ladder above its intended weight capacity.

ii. Place ladders on slip-free surfaces even if they have slip-resistant feet. 

iii. Secure the ladder if a slip-free surface is not available.

iv. Avoid placing ladders in walkways. Secure a ladder if its location could cause an accident.

v. Keep areas around ladders clean and free of debris.

vi. Do not use a ladder in front of a door unless the door is locked and barricaded.

9. Lifting

a) Safe lifting procedures and load-carrying techniques are crucial to preventing back-related injuries. The following steps may help with back-related injuries:

i. Take a few moments to do some quick stretches.

ii. Size up the load. If it is too heavy or bulky, get help (office personnel limit is 25 lbs).

iii. Decide the path of travel and make it is clear of any obstructions.

iv. Know the final destination of the material being carried.

v. Keep your mind on the job. 

vi. Keep your body in the safety zone (body balanced above your feet, feet shoulder width apart, when lifting keep objects between hips and shoulders).

vii. Move close to the load.

viii. Bend the knees and lift with the legs.

ix. If object is too heavy, get help or use mechanical aid (2 wheel dolly or cart).

x. Keep objects close to the body

xi. When turning use your feet. Do not twist at the waist.

xii. Set objects down slowly.

b) If deciding to push or pull an object remember pushing is easier on your back. Push with both arms keeping your back in the neutral position. If there is a need to pull an object stay close to the load and keep your body balanced.

10. Material Storage

a) When storing material, store on a firm foundation and do not make a stack so high that it topples over. Store heavier materials on lower shelves and lighter supplies on higher shelves and make items that are used more frequently easily accessible. Provide a ladder or stepstool to reach supplies or material that are on upper or hard to reach shelves. Do not allow materials to obstruct aisles, stairs, emergency exits, fire extinguishers or emergency alarm boxes.

11. Stairways/Steps

a) All stairways must be clean, dry and free of debris. No accumulation of any material shall be allowed on stairs or in stairways or stairwells. Hallways and stairwells shall be well lit to help reduce accidents and promote security. Light bulbs, lamps, and fixtures must be repaired or replaced as necessary to maintain adequate lighting at all times in all areas of the office.

12. Preventing Stress

a) To reduce stress and prevent fatigue, it is important to take mini-breaks throughout the day.

b) If possible, change tasks at least once every two hours. 

c) Stretch your arms, neck, and legs often if you do the same type of work for long periods of time. 

d) Rest your eyes often by closing them or looking at something other than the work at hand.

e) For a quick pick-me-up, breathe deeply several times by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.