Workplace Wellness & Security

4 Common workplace dangers to look out For

David Spence
November 5th, 2014

How safe is your office?

Eye strain and musculoskeletal disorders

According to a survey conducted by corporate insurance provider Westfield Health, 53 percent of respondents said that their work has had a negative impact on their eye health. Problems like headaches, dry eye and eye strain are common complaints among professionals who use computers on a regular basis.

To avoid these issues, the Occupational and Safety Health Administration suggests doing non-computer related tasks for 10 minutes. If that’s not possible, another suggestion is to look at an object 20 feet away, every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. The important thing is to give your eyes a break on a regular basis.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, MSDs accounted for 33 percent of workplace injuries and illness in 2011. That’s why having ergonomic furniture and accessories is so important—think items like office chairs that are easily adjustable and headsets for workers who are often on the phone. Document holders can prevent neck strain if workers have to refer back to a document while typing, foot holders can help workers maintain proper posture and ergonomic mousepads and keyboards can reduce wrist pain.

Hallway and floor safety

To prevent collisions when two people are walking around a hallway corner, set up convex mirrors so that workers can see who’s coming toward them. To prevent slips and falls during the winter months, set up floor runners near front doors, but also be sure to have melted snow and puddles mopped up quickly. In carpeted areas, be on the lookout for any spots where the carpet’s loose; they could be a tripping hazard.

Storage security

Boxes and equipment should not be stacked too high; if they fall, it could lead to serious injury. Health and Safety Magazine says that heavier items should be set close to the ground, and the storage room itself should have a clear path so items can be easily reached. Filing cabinets should also be handled with care—drawers that are opened at the same time could make the cabinet tip over. Fully closing them will also ensure there’s one less tripping hazard in the office.

What further steps can you take to keep the workplace safe? Employee reporting and walk-throughs are both good options.


Health and Safety Magazine also advises creating an anonymous reporting system where employees can disclose their safety concerns. Of course, simply talking to employees is also an option, too, and one that you should use. But for cases where employees feel uncomfortable reporting a danger directly, giving them an option to report anonymously can be a great advantage.


Employees can help you get point-specific insights on things that need to be improved. For a more general view of the facility’s safety, however, conduct annual walk-throughs and look for potential problem areas.

Being aware of a facility’s safety risks is the baseline for establishing a workplace environment. What other problem areas do you think facilities managers should focus on?

Emergency scenarios

Explosions and fires

Fire danger might be the most lethal threat your office faces, but it is preventable with the right precautions. We recommend scheduling your maintenance team to undertake regular checks of electrical wiring and smoke alarms. You should also effectively communicate emergency exit plans to your staff. You can design an evacuation plan tailored to your office setup with software that allows you to track and manage your entire office space.

Chemical threats

Don’t make the mistake of not properly preparing for chemical threats by believing they’re improbable. Purchasing protective equipment—such as respiratory masks and other protective apparel—might seem like an unnecessary investment, but it could mean the difference between life and death. One way to ensure preparedness is to be able to manage your staff and your space from a mobile device should you have to evacuate the building.

Workplace violence

Violent acts and altercations can be difficult to anticipate, but certain resources can equip you for necessary action. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides specific guidance for facility managers on their website regarding how to handle physical assaults or threatening behavior. During such incidents, it’s essential to know where to direct affected individuals—whether it’s the threatening individual or those who can be potentially harmed—to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Floods, hurricanes and earthquakes

OSHA also provides guidance on how to handle natural disasters such as extreme floodingearthquakes and other hazards incurred by severe weather. Some ways to prepare include putting together emergency kits, reviewing your insurance policies and familiarizing yourself with the zone where you live, including where to evacuate to if necessary. Should you be displaced by a natural disaster, you’ll need to make an in-depth plan for moving to a temporary location or a new one altogether.

Utility disruptions and failures

Internal communication is essential should electricity go out without notice—and employees will be looking for direction during what can become a chaotic situation. Plans and procedures for how to act in blackouts or power outages should be organized in advance, and made available for all employees to review. As the facility manager, it is also your job to gather and put in place important emergency supplies such as flashlights, battery operated radios and a backup power supply for any essential medical equipment. Keep track of and instantly locate these important materials using effective resource tracking software.

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc