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Spring is not just a great time to clear your office of dust bunnies and vacuum around your desk; it is also a good time to eliminate safety hazards in your work area. When you clean with safety in mind, you make your work area look neater and may reduce your risk of sustaining an injury on the job.
Having a lot of clutter makes it difficult to find what you need when you need it. What some people don't know is that clutter is also a safety hazard. Cluttered work areas increase the risk of fires and slip-and-fall accidents, so take this opportunity to eliminate clutter wherever possible. Move items away from exits, remove tripping hazards, throw away unneeded items and file needed papers so that they do not clutter your work area.
If you have ever used a photocopier or cleaned your work area with a cleaning product, then you have used chemicals in the workplace. If these chemicals are not used and stored properly, they can cause fires. Improper use may also lead to skin exposure or inhalation of toxic fumes. During spring cleaning, make sure all chemicals are stored properly. Refer to the material safety data sheet for each product to determine the proper way to store cleaning fluids and other chemicals. Avoid storing chemicals in direct sunlight or near other heat sources, as this may cause chemical degradation. Be sure to wear gloves when rearranging chemicals in a storage area, as skin exposure can cause irritation and chemical burns. If you no longer use certain chemicals, dispose of them according to the guidelines in your employer's material safety data sheet, or MSDS.
In 2012, researchers from San Diego State University revealed that offices may be contaminated with more than 500 types of bacteria. The researchers looked for bacteria on computer mice, desktop surfaces, chairs, computer keyboards and telephones in 90 offices. They found that a number of the bacteria they identified are associated with the digestive tract. If you want to eliminate bacteria from hard surfaces in your office, spend some time cleaning them with disinfecting wipes.
Broken equipment poses a hazard to anyone who uses it, so take the time to determine if any equipment needs to be repaired. Once you identify equipment in need of service, schedule a repair appointment or send a work order to your on-site maintenance department. If you determine that the equipment is no longer needed, arrange to have someone remove it from your work area. If it will take several days or weeks for someone to repair a piece of broken equipment, make sure it has a sign that warns people against using it.
A spring cleaning session is also a good time to make sure your work area has a well-stocked first-aid kit. The American National Standards Institute, through ANSI Z308.1-2003 addresses the minimum requirements for first-aid kits to be present in the workplace. A first-aid kit that complies with this standard will contain a minimum of 16 adhesive bandages, one absorbent compress, one roll of adhesive tape, one triangular bandage, two pairs of medical exam gloves, four sterile pads, 10 applications of antiseptic compound and six applications of burn treatment compound. Other useful items to include are single-dose oral pain relievers, antibiotic treatments, cold packs, bandage compresses, roller bandages, breathing barriers, eye wash and burn dressings. Although your company may not be required to follow this ANSI standard, having these items on hand is helpful when dealing with injuries and accidents.
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