When most people think of environmental health and safety, they picture the dangers of industrial workplaces and construction sites. The office environment, however, poses its own challenges to environmental health and safety. This guide outlines the risks and safe work practices to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses in the office environment.

Types of Accidents in the Office Environment

A large percentage of workplace accidents and injuries occur in office buildings. Like shops and studios, the office requires a few preventative measures to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. Common causes of office injuries and illnesses include:

Good Housekeeping Practices

Hazardous Objects and Materials

Excluding employees authorized to carry a weapon in performance duties, employees are forbidden to possess a weapon on SAIC premises. In addition, hazardous chemical and materials should not be stored the general office area. Hazardous materials include but are not limited to the following:

Contact the Environmental Health and Safety office for assistance in determining if your materials are hazardous and require storage.

Preventing Cuts and Puncture

Cuts and punctures happen when people use everyday office supplies without exercising care or paying attention to detail. Below are a few guidelines to reduce cuts and punctures:

Preventing Equipment and Machine Accidents

Only use equipment and machines that you know how to operate. Never attempt to operate a machine that is unfamiliar without reading operating instruction or receiving directions from a qualified employee. In addition, follow these guidelines to prevent injury while operating equipment and machines:

Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls

The best way to avoid slips, trips, and falls is to pay attention to your surroundings and avoid running or rushing. To prevent injuries to others, follow these guidelines:

Preventing Physical Stress and Fatigue

To reduce physical stress on the body and prevent fatigue, take mini-breaks throughout the day. If possible, change tasks throughout the day. Stretch your arms, neck, and legs often, if you’re sitting at a desk for long periods of time. If you believe you office set-up is causing physical stress, contact Environmental Health and Safety office for an ergonomic assessment.

Office furniture other equipment

Office furniture and other equipment such as file cabinets, shelves, desks, chairs, and stepladders should also be considered as a potential source of injury and special care should be taken to avoid accidents.

Desks, file cabinets and shelves

Office Chairs


Always use a ladder or step stool to reach any item above your extended arm height. Never use a makeshift device, such as a desk, file cabinet, bookshelf, or box as a substitute for a ladder.