Can office automation cause hazards?

It may cause surprise to many that automation products used in the office could also be hazardous. Fact is, they are. These hazards may not be outwardly obvious as in the case of faulty staircases or improperly or inadequately insulated wires, but office automation products carry with them sufficient risk-causing factors to have OSHA guidelines framed on this aspect. Let us examine some of them:

Some are obvious

The office could have some palpable injury-causing objects, such as desks and chairs. These need to be handled with care and professionalism, because if they are handled improperly, they could cause serious injuries. For example, if the workplace is being relocated, then it calls for professional help in transporting these items. Also, even within the workplace, if items such as chairs or tables need shifting, a lot of care has to be taken, without which they could end up causing problems for the staff.

Others, not so much…

Other subtle harm causing agents usually are present in the office environment, but they are not very visible to the naked eye easily. Good examples of these are the vinyl clothing that office chairs usually have. The ability of these products to cause harm may not be very overt, but they are potential harm-causing agents when office staff is exposed to their use for prolonged periods of time. Because of this, these materials should be carefully selected and properly sewn and covered. This prevents greater damage to the skin and the respiratory system, especially when the workplace has employees who are allergic to these substances.

The muscle that rests is the muscle that rusts

While improper use of heavy objects is a clear pointer for injury; one important fact that OSHA bears in mind and recommends suggestions for is, ironically, lack of movement in the office. Office work, especially in the IT sector, has made people very stationary and sedentary. In this scenario, the most urgent and important need is to make sure that they move around at frequent intervals for improving blood circulation and use equipment that are body-friendly.

Ergonomics at work

Towards this end, OSHA recommends the use of ergonomically designed office automation products such as chairs, keyboards, computer monitors and mouse, and lays stress on the adaption of proper posture and on items such as anti-glare monitors. All these need to be implemented at the workplace, lack of which can lead to disorders and conditions such as carpal syndrome,  plantar fasciitis and a host of other musculoskeletal disorders, apart from strain to the eyes, neck and shoulders, feet and wrists.



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