Office Safety

An office may seem like a harmless place to work, but it may contain potential hazards. Identifying the dangers and correcting the problems can help ensure a safe work environment.

  • Heavy Objects: Prevent back injuries by knowing how much you can lift safely and by getting help when needed.
Proper lifting techniques:


Keep close to your body:


  • Unsafe Ladders: Never stand on a table, counter, or chair with wheels when reaching for items overhead. Always use a sturdy stool or stepladder.
  • Loose Electric Cords: Keep wiring organized and out of walking areas to prevent tripping. Don’t put wiring under carpets. This conceals frayed cords and increases the risk of fires.
  • Slippery Floors: Clean up spills on the floor to prevent slipping.
  • File Cabinets: Don’t place file cabinets where people are liable to walk into open drawers. Do not overload top drawers and create a top-heavy file cabinet that could topple. Keep files loosely packed to prevent hand and wrist injuries.
  • Broken Equipment: Do not use broken or unguarded equipment (such as a paper cutter without a guard). Mark the equipment “unsafe” and report it to your supervisor.
  • Propped-open Fire Doors: Do not prop open self-closing, fire-rated corridor doors. They can resist flames and keep smoke out of corridors only if they are kept closed.
  • Blocked Exits: Be sure you know the location of more than 1 emergency exit and that nothing blocks your egress.
  • Fire Equipment: Be aware of the location of the closest fire alarm and fire extinguisher.
  • Video Display Terminals: While working, take a 5-minute break away from your computer every half hour. Take standing breaks at least hourly when sitting in your office for prolonged periods.
  • Multiple Power Strips: Do not use power strips in multiple, “daisy chain” combinations. Never plug a power strip into another power strip or into an extension cord.
  • Electrical Outlets: Do not use 3-prong to 2-prong adapters. Find a 3-prong outlet.
  • Computer Monitors Disposal: Monitors are considered universal waste and cannot be disposed of in campus trash receptacles or dumpsters. (Please read our policy on universal waste)
  • Toner: Empty toner containers may be thrown in the regular trash, but it is better to send them back to your toner supplier for recycling:(212) 938-5717.
    • If you have an unwanted full container, you may not throw it in the trash.
      Please contact EH&S so that we can dispose of it as hazardous waste:
      (212) 938-5581
  • Batteries: Used batteries may not go in the common trash. Place all used batteries in one of the blue recycling bin designated for batteries.

Preventing Slips and Falls

Many office accidents are caused by poor housekeeping practices. By keeping the office floor both neat and clean, you can eliminate most slipping, tripping, and falling hazards. To ensure safety for others in the office, however, follow these guidelines:

  • Arrange office furnishings in a manner that provides unobstructed areas for movement.
  • Keep stairs, steps, flooring, and carpeting well maintained.
  • Ensure that glass doors have some type of marking to keep people from walking through them.
  • Clearly mark any difference in floor level that could cause an accident.
  • Secure throw rugs and mats to prevent slipping hazards.
  • Do not place wastebaskets or other objects in walkways.
  • Report or repair tripping hazards such as defective tiles, boards, or carpet immediately.
  • Ensure that electrical cords and phone cords do not cross walkways or otherwise pose a tripping hazard. If you cannot move a cord, have a new outlet installed or secure the cord to the floor with cord covering strips. Do not tape cords down or run them underneath carpet.
  • Clean spills and pick up fallen debris immediately. Even a loose pencil or paper clip could cause a serious falling injury.


Preventing Stress

To reduce stress and prevent fatigue, it is important to take mini-breaks (not many breaks) throughout the day. If possible, change tasks at least once every 2 hours. Stretch your arms, neck, and legs often if you do the same type of work for long periods of time. Rest your eyes often by closing them or looking at something other than the work at hand. For a quick pick-me-up, breathe deeply several times by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. In addition, always try to eat your lunch somewhere other than your desk.