June is National Safety Month. I hope that for many workplaces, the observance serves as an extension of a strong safety culture already in place. However, Associate Editor Lauretta Claussen’s article, “Recognizing hidden dangers: 25 steps to a safer office,” is a reminder that safety may not always be top of mind for people who work in an office setting, and that safety professionals face an ongoing challenge to communicate and reinforce safety messages among those who spend their days in a cubicle rather than on the shop floor.
I have a memory from a previous office job – one at which I can’t remember the word “safety” ever being mentioned by management – of standing with one foot on a chair and the other on top of a desk to hang a birthday decoration from the ceiling. (I’m also pretty sure I attached it to the fire sprinkler.) In contrast, only weeks after I began working at the National Safety Council, I dragged a chair to a particular spot with the intention of using the same method to decorate for the holidays. I got no further, however. An NSC staffer, seeing what I was about to do, immediately told me where I could find a stepladder. Abashed, I went to get it, and my first lesson in office safety was learned.
Ten years later, as I’ve watched new people join the council staff, I know now that it really is all about culture. The council is in the midst of a new campaign to encourage increased reporting of hazards and near misses, and it’s interesting to watch new co-workers come to the realization that their new employer takes its middle name seriously. As with any other workplace, it takes continuous effort to build and maintain that awareness. But with some 80,000 office injuries reported each year, it’s an effort worth making.
The opinions expressed in “Editor’s Note” do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.