According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately three million workplace injuries are reported by private industry employers each year in the United States. While some might assume that most of those injuries happen in industries with clear and inherent hazards—such as the oil and gas, construction, or manufacturing industries—a large number occur in seemingly-harmless office environments. Not only are office injuries surprisingly common, but they can also be quite serious. BLS data shows that around 76,000 office workers sustain disabling workplace injuries every year.
Read on to learn more about office hazards, accidents, and injuries, as well as what you can do if you are an office worker who was injured on the job.
Falls are the most common type of injury that occurs in an office environment—they are also responsible for the greatest number of disabling injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Additionally, the injuries sustained by office workers in a fall are 2 to 2.5 times more likely to be disabling than the fall-related injuries sustained by workers in other industries.
In an office environment, falls may be caused by:
- Using unstable chairs, boxes, or other objects as ladders
- Bending over to reach something while seated on an unstable or rolling chair
- Loose carpeting or damaged flooring
- Objects, wires, or electrical cords in a walkway
- Wet or slippery flooring
- Carrying something that obscures vision
Falls can result in a wide range of injuries, including bruises, lacerations, head traumas, and broken bones.
Strains and Overexertion
While most office jobs do not require a lot of heavy lifting, even lifting small objects can result in injury if proper lifting techniques are not used. Lifting with the arms, rather than using the strength of the legs, as well as twisting while lifting, can lead to back, neck, shoulder, and other musculoskeletal injuries.
Striking-Against or Struck-By Object Incidents and Caught-In or Between Object Accidents
Believe it or not, bumping into people and objects—or getting a body part or clothing caught in something—results in a significant number of workplace injuries each year.
Examples of “striking against” incidents that may lead to injuries include:
- Running into desks, doors, file cabinets, and open drawers
- Colliding with other people while walking through the office
- Bumping against sharp objects and office equipment
Office workers can be injured when fingers or skin are closed in a door, drawer, or window, or caught by the blade of a paper cutter; or when fingers, skin, hair, jewelry, or articles of clothing are caught in the moving parts of a piece of office equipment. Other times, office workers may be injured when struck by an object in the workplace. Offending objects often include:
- Office supplies stored on top of cabinets or high shelves
- Unbalanced file cabinets that may fall over
- File drawers that fall because they have been pulled out too far
- Computers, monitors, or other office equipment that falls from a desk
- Doors that unexpectedly open from the other side
Striking-against, struck-by, caught-in, and caught-between accidents can cause any number of injuries—from cuts and bruises to amputations—and are often caused by poor office layout, improper or unsafe storage methods, and inattention.
Other Common Office Hazards
- Electrical hazards: Improperly grounded equipment, overloaded outlets, reliance on extension cords, power cords covered by mats or rugs, overheating equipment, worn cords, or using electrical equipment near water may lead to electrical injury.
- Workstation ergonomics issues: Eye strain, static postures, and repetitive motions are ergonomics issues that may result in injuries, such as vision problems, musculoskeletal pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Do You Need a Knowledgeable Workers' Comp Attorney?
If you were injured in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation—even if your injury occurred while you were working in an office environment. Let the experienced workers' comp attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group help you pursue benefits for medical bills, lost wages, and more. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation. We are eager to answer any questions you may have.