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July 10, 2013
Your office may be more hazardous than you realize

What could be unsafe about your office? After all, there’s no heavy equipment—just desks, chairs, and computers. But what about the frayed electric cords, the teetering pile of materials stacked in a corner, and that file cabinet people keep tripping over?

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Maybe it’s time for an office safety reality check.

The Office of Compliance (OOC) is a federal government agency that promotes and monitors safety in the U.S. Capitol and other legislative workplaces. The OOC has prepared an office safety and health checklist. Take a look and make note of areas in need of improvement:

  • Review your office emergency action plan or evacuation plan—employees need to know where to go if a building evacuation or shelter-in-place emergency alarm is sounded.
  • Check your electrical wires for office desk equipment and other equipment. Make sure extension cords are not being used as permanent wiring connections. Power strips or surge protectors should be plugged directly into a floor or wall outlet.
  • Check electrical outlets and power cord plugs to make sure they are not damaged and that wires are kept within the box.
  • Check bathroom outlets near the sink and in other wet areas to make sure electrical outlets have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) at these locations.
  • If your office has an electrical panel board with circuit breakers, make sure the area in front of the panel is kept clear with no obstructions. That way, the circuit breakers can be reached quickly in an emergency to kill power to a given circuit.
  • If you use a portable fan, make sure it is equipped with a fan blade guard with openings of a half-inch or less in diameter.
  • Keep power cords, wires, and phone cables from running across or through a walkway or exit route.
  • Secure all carpets and rugs to prevent slips and trips.
  • Check to see that open file cabinet drawers do not block a walkway. Also, don’t leave file cabinet drawers open and make sure that heavy items are kept on the bottom.
  • Store overhead materials in a secure manner. Any storage shelving must be secured to the wall or another means of preventing it from falling on someone.
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