3.8 – Office Safety


Injuries and accidents in the office are just as painful and costly as those occurring in the work place. The office should be no less safe than any other area and equal amount of care must be taken to assure the welfare of the workers. Some simple rules will eliminate the majority of office hazards.


Filing and Storage Cabinets

Prevent cabinets from tipping over by bolting cabinets together side by side where possible. Do not overload top shelves. Open drawers one at a time so as not to unbalance the cabinet. Close all the drawers when they are not in use. Use the handles to open and close the drawers to prevent pinched fingers. Do not struggle with firmly stuck drawers, the drawer may suddenly pull loose and fall on a foot, or could cause a muscle strain.

Paper Cutters and Shredders

After using the paper cutter make sure that the blade is closed. Be very careful when using the shredder to avoid catching jewellery, ties, clothing or long hair in the blades.

Waste Baskets

Never use a waste cans as an ashtray as this could easily start a fire. If the basket is being used to dispose of glass, sharp edged cans or other similar objects, first place these objects in a bag or wrap them in newspaper and mark the contents clearly. Never leave these items loose in the container.

Electrical Cords

To avoid fire hazards, ensure that all electrical cords are in good condition and not overloaded. Any cords that are worn or frayed are to be repaired or replaced immediately. Do not run electrical or telephone cords across aisles or walkways. Never remove an electrical cord form the wall socket by pulling on the cord, always pull the plug head instead.

Floor and Aisles

Slipping and tripping hazards are probably the most common in an office setting. To avoid these:

  • Keep floors and aisles free of all debris and storage boxes.
  • Use the aisles and walkways provided to move around the office. Do not take shortcuts.
  • Do not obstruct your forward view when walking by carrying objects that are large.

Never leave or store material on the stairs.

  • Pick up debris and wipe up spills on the stairs immediately.
  • Report unsafe conditions.
  • Hold onto the handrail when using the stairs.

Basic rules for ladder use are as follows:

  • If using a stepladder, ensure that it is fully open and is on level ground before starting to climb.
  • Never stand on the top two rungs of the ladder.
  • Never reach to the side of a ladder, climb down and move the ladder.
Flammable Materials

By using a hazard assessment required by Part 2, flammable substances stored or used at a work area (that is considered not a hazardous location):

  • will not be in sufficient quantity to produce an explosive atmosphere if inadvertently released,
  • are not stored within 30 meters of an underground shaft, are not stored in the immediate vicinity of the air intake of ventilation supply system, an internal combustion engine, or the fire box of a fired heater or furnace, and
  • are stored only in containers approved to CSA, or ULC Standards. CSA B376-M1980 (R1998), “Portable Containers for Gasoline and other Petroleum Fuels.” ULC Standard C30-1995, “Containers, Safety”.

Atmospheric test results should be assessed, to ensure the atmosphere a worker is to enter, is not more than 20 percent of the lower explosive limit of a flammable or explosive substance. In any atmosphere within this range a worker is not permitted to enter.

If the work requires that the contents of metallic or conductive containers be transferred from one to another, an employer must ensure that static electricity is controlled while the contents are being transferred.

If a worker’s clothing/and or skin is contaminated with a flammable or combustible liquid, the worker must:

  • Avoid any activity where a spark or open flame may be created or exists,
  • Remove the clothing and,
  • ensure the clothing is decontaminated before it is used again. If a worker’s skin is contaminated the worker must wash the skin at the earliest possible time.

The supervisor is to ensure that an internal combustion engine in a hazardous location has a combustion air intake and exhaust discharge that are equipped with a flame arresting device or located outside the hazardous location. Whenever possible, internal combustion engines should be located outside the hazardous location.

Never use flammable liquids such as gasoline, naphtha or varsol for cleaning in the office. Keep any flammable material in approved containers that are properly labelled. Do not leave the containers uncapped.


Use only the fans with a wire mesh guard that completely covers the blades.


Do not smoke while handling flammable materials. Smoke in designated areas only.

Fire Precautions

Ensure that all employees know the location of the fire fighting equipment in the office and also know which type of extinguisher on which class of fire. Ensure that extinguishers are properly maintained. Ensure that all personnel are familiar with escape routes to be used in an emergency and know how to contact the emergency services.