Posted on January 7, 2014

Cable covers and protectorsYou don’t have to be rock climbing, skiing or playing rugby to have a injury serious enough to be hospitalized. There are plenty of hazards around the office that could cause health problems ranging from minor respiratory problems to serious traumas and chronic, terminal illnesses. The following hazards might force you to take a second look at your office from a new, safer angle.

Air

The stale office air that we breathe can give rise to numerous minor or major health problems. The recycled office air can be swarming with viruses exhaled by a sick person. Some of these viruses can survive up to 72 hours in the warm and unventilated office air and attack healthy employees. Cough, cold and flu are the common infections transmitted through the office air. Dry, heated air can cause respiratory problems and trigger asthma attacks. Breathing in a confined space can cause people to inhale air with lower amounts of oxygen and higher concentrations of carbon-dioxide, leading to headaches, dizziness and lethargy.

To side step this hazard, make sure that your office air is properly ventilated and replaced by fresh air. Use a humidifier when the heating is on, so that the air shouldn’t become stuffy. It’s best to have an office with windows that people can open when they feel like it.

Desk

Believe it or not, but some office desks are awfully dirtier than toilet seats. I’m not kidding. An Arizona University study of more than 100 offices shows that many desks were filthier than loo seats. Computer keyboards are the worst, holding an average of 3,295 microbes per square inch (a toilet seat has only 49!). These viruses and bacteria stick to your fingers while typing and enter your body when your touch your eyes or nose. Offices where employees take their lunch at their desks need to be especially careful, as putrefying crumbs and tiny droppings from those sandwiches can exacerbate the infection-causing potential of your desk.

Cleaning and disinfecting regularly is your only line of defence against germs on your desk and keyboard. Educate your employees to eat in the cafeteria and wash hands regularly. If you don’t have one, dedicate a table for eating and clean it thoroughly every day.

Tripping Objects

It can be startling as well as embarrassing when someone trips over an object and falls. Tripping can cause serious injuries, even fractures. The most common tripping objects in the office are loose wires connecting your computers and other hardware to electric supply or each other. These booby traps can catch their unsuspecting victims by surprise and can send them crashing to the floor. A trip might also cause a monitor or printer to dislodge from its resting place and get smashed against the floor.

If you have loose cables and wires turning your office into a minefield, it’s time to upgrade to a wireless network or at least purchase some floor cable protectors. Make sure that the wires are safely stowed away from plain view, as cobwebs of cables also make your office look untidy. Keep the walking corridors clear of tripping objects at all times.

Chair

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Sitting in your office chair for long hours is the most lethal health risk that your office exposes you to. Research shows that people who sit for 6 hours at their desk are considerably more likely to develop chronic health problems such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. Deep vein thrombosis or DVT is a potentially terminal health condition that involves formation of blood clots in the body. Travelling to the brain or the heart, these clots can cause life-threatening situations. The condition was previously associated with long-haul flights, but lately office workers are becoming the most likely victims of DVT because of their consistently long sitting hours. Sitting in an incorrect posture is the most common reason for back ache, which is a leading health problem among the UK office workers.

Keeping a healthy and active lifestyle, sitting in the correct posture, and doing light exercises at your desk are some of the things that can keep the dangers of sitting in a chair at bay.