Common Office Hazards in Portland, OR

Written by Adian Martin on . Posted in Posts: Workers' Compensation

When you work in an office, your job seems like the safest occupation you could have. You sit in a chair, sort through paperwork, and type. Where's the danger? However, many office workers don't realize that they face workplace hazards every day.

To stay safe in your workplace, you should know what risks your office holds, and how to avoid them. The following details the risks involved in using computers and in working in a typical office setting.

Health Issues Related to Computer Use

Computers are a common fixture in most every offices these days. You probably can't do your job without one. However, computers also have their drawbacks. These drawbacks quickly become apparent when you stare at your computer and sit in a chair for hours on end every work week.

Watch out for these common computer complaints:

Computer Vision Syndrome

Computer vision syndrome describes a collection of symptoms you might experience if you spend most of your time looking at a screen. Computer vision syndrome is not a disease, but it can have some uncomfortable effects.

When you work on a computer for long periods of time, you don't blink as much as you should, and you open your eyes wider than normal. Your eyes also have to continually focus on the words or images right in front of you. This can result in a number of health consequences, including the following:

  • Blurred vision

  • Dry, red eyes

  • Double vision

  • Eye irritation

  • Headaches

Severe computer vision syndrome can cause acute eye strain. You can avoid this if you rest your eyes every 20 minutes. You can look at a faraway object or just close them for 30 seconds or so. You should also make an effort to blink regularly.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Better known than computer vision syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome can result from extensive computer use. This condition happens when the carpal tunnel, or narrow passageway that contains bones and ligaments, gets too narrow and puts pressure on your median nerve. You might feel numbness, tingling, or pain in your hand, wrist, or arm.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause serious pain and it often gets worse over time. You'll need a doctor to help you find the right treatment.

If you have carpal tunnel syndrome, and you believe it happened as a result of your job, a lawyer can help you submit a worker's compensation claim to help cover your medical bills.

Bad Posture

Since you have to sit in a chair to use them, computers dramatically affect your posture. When you get caught up in your work, it's easy to slump over or lean in to get closer to the computer monitor. However, bad posture causes neck and back pain and spinal distortions.

To encourage good posture, get an ergonomic office chair. Make an effort to sit up straight, but without tensing your back. Keep yo ur head level and adjust your computer monitors so they don't force you to look too far up or down.  

Health Issues Related to Office Environments

Even though office jobs don't require manual labor or physical exertion, you can still get injured in these types of environments. Plenty of places around your office building hold potential dangers. Watch out for these common risks.

Electrical Outlets and Cords

You see cords everywhere when you have an office full of computers and other electronics. Dangling cords, or cords that run across the floor, could cause you to trip and fall.

Your employer has a responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Alert your supervisor about any wayward cords that could cause accidents. You should also watch out for frayed or split cords and broken electrical outlets.

Ventilation and Temperature

If you work in an overcrowded office, or one without a proper ventilation system, bad indoor air quality can cause health problems for you and other workers. People with asthma or allergies will have a harder time working in bad air.

You also shouldn't have to endure extreme temperatures. Your employer should keep your office reasonably warm or cool depending on the season.

Sanitation

Does your office employ proper housekeeping measures and keep your workspace clean? Staff should empty trash cans regularly and keep food prep areas neat and sanitary. If your office has an in-house cafeteria, it has to follow normal food safety rules and regulations.

Sedentary Lifestyles

Office living can easily lead to sedentary living. If you spend eight hours a day sitting down and don't exercise much when you go home, it can have serious consequences for your health. Sedentary lifestyles lead to a variety of diseases and maladies, including obesity.

If your employer agrees to swap out your desk, you can switch to a standing one. This will also improve your posture. However, if you're stuck sitting down, you can still stay active. Practice desk exercises throughout the day, and take short breaks to stand up, walk around, and stretch.

Your office should be a haven, not a hazard. Watch out for common office risks around you to stay healthy and avoid getting injured.