OSHA Field Safety and Health Manual (SHMS)

CHAPTER 6. OFFICE SAFETY AND HEALTH

  1. Purpose

    This program is intended to protect employees from potential health and safety hazards in the office. This policy emphasizes the elimination or reduction of hazards by workplace and job design, taking into account differences among tasks and individuals.

  2. Scope

    This chapter applies to all OSHA employees.

  3. Definitions
    1. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). The quality of air within the office environment; this is a function of many parameters, including outdoor air quality in the vicinity of the building, the configuration of the enclosed space, the design of the ventilation system, the way the system is operated and maintained, and the presence of sources of contaminants and the concentrations of those contaminants.

    2. NEC. National Electrical Code.

    3. Noise. Unwanted sound. The most common effects in offices are: interference with speech communication; annoyance; and distraction from mental activities.

    4. REMP. Regional Emergency Management Plan.

    5. SIP. Shelter in Place.

    6. Suspicious Package. The following may be indicators - mail and deliveries that have:

      1. Excess postage;

      2. Handwritten or poorly typed addressses;

      3. Incorrect titles;

      4. Title but no name;

      5. Misspellings of common words;

      6. Oily stains or discolorations or odors emitted from the mail or parcel;

      7. No return address;

      8. Excessive weight;

      9. Lopsided or uneven envelope;

      10. Protruding wires or aluminum foil;

      11. Excessive security material, such as masking tape, string, etc;

      12. Visual distractions;

      13. Ticking sound;

      14. Marked with restrictive endorsements, such as "Personal" or "Confidential;"

      15. Shows a city or state in the postmark that does not match the return address; or

      16. Unexpected parcels.

  4. Responsibilites
    1. Responsible OSHA Manager(s)’s responsibilities include:

      1. Working with the local safety and health committee to supplement this chapter to meet the needs of the specific office environment;

      2. Ensuring office safety and health inspections are conducted quarterly;

      3. Training all employees on this chapter;

      4. Providing proper storage for office supplies;

      5. Ensuring that office equipment is in safe working order; and

      6. Ensuring that safe procedures for processing incoming mail and deliveries are utilized.

    2. Employee Responsibilities include:

      1. Reporting all safety or health concerns to management;

      2. Maintaining an orderly and sanitary office environment; and

      3. Following all office safety and health policies.

  5. Procedure
    1. Housekeeping

      1. All aisles and passageways in offices must be free and clear of obstructions. Proper layout, spacing, and arrangement of equipment, furniture, and machinery are essential.

      2. All tripping hazards must be eliminated. Some common hazards are damaged carpeting, cords in walking areas, and projecting floor electrical outlet boxes.

      3. . Chairs, files, bookcases and desks must be maintained in a safe operating condition. Filing cabinet drawers must always be kept closed when not in use.

      4. Materials stored in supply rooms must be safely stacked and readily accessible. Care must be taken to stack materials so that they will not topple over. Heavy objects will be stored at low levels. Under no circumstances will materials be stacked within 18 inches of ceiling fire sprinkler heads or Halon plane of operation.

      5. Hazardous materials must be properly handled and disposed of. A waste receptacle of hazardous material must be labeled to warn employees of the potential hazards.

    2. Electrical Safety

      1. Electrical cords must be examined on a routine basis for fraying and exposed wiring. Particular attention should be paid to connections behind furniture, as files and bookcases may be pushed tightly against electric outlets, severely bending the cord at the plug. Defective cords will be replaced or repaired, as needed.

      2. Electrical equipment and wiring must be approved and used in accordance with NEC and local requirements.

      3. Non-business related small appliances, such as space heaters, are not permitted in the office unless approved by management. Re-locatable power taps (power strips) can be used in conjunction with small appliances if listed and labeled for such use.

      4. Use of extension cords:

        1. Extension cords must only be used as temporary wiring in accordance with OSHA’s electrical standards.

        2. Extension cords must be kept in good repair, free from defects in their insulation. Defective cords will be removed from service until repaired or replaced.

        3. Extension cords must be positioned so that they do not present a tripping or slipping hazards.

        4. Extension cords must not be placed through doorways having doors that can be closed and thereby damage the cord.

        5. All extension cords must be of the grounding type (three conductors).

    3. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

      1. The Department of Labor has adopted a Smoke-Free Workplace Policy that applies to every OSHA location. Smoking is prohibited within all OSHA offices and buildings, except in designated locations. Smoking materials must be extinguished and placed in appropriate containers before leaving smoking areas.

      2. The Agency will investigate all complaints of IAQ. Air sampling will be conducted, when appropriate, and the results will be shared with employee(s) and their union representative(s).

    4. Noise

      1. Sound levels must be considered during the procurement and location or of any office equipment.

      2. Provide proper maintenance of equipment, such as lubrication and tightening loose parts, to prevent noise.

      3. Locate loud equipment in areas where its effects are less detrimental. For example, place shredders away from areas where people must use the phone.

      4. Barriers, walls, or dividers can be used to isolate noise sources. Acoustically-treated materials can be used as buffers to deaden noise and appropriate padding can be used to insulate vibrating equipment to reduce noise.

      5. Schedule noisy tasks at times when it will have the lease effect on other tasks in the office.

    5. Hazard Communication Program

      1. Every employee must be made aware of all hazardous materials they may contact in the office.

      2. The hazard communication program must follow the requirements of the hazard communication portion of this manual (Chapter 12) and 29 CFR 1910.1200.

    6. Emergency Action Plan

      1. Every office must have a written emergency action plan covering actions that must be taken to ensure employee safety from fire and other emergencies, such as tornados or bomb threats.

      2. The written emergency action plan must, at a minimum, including the following information:

        1. Emergency escape procedures and emergency escape route assignments;

        2. Procedures to account for all employees after emergency evacuation has been completed;

        3. The methods of reporting fires and other emergencies;

        4. The alarm or emergency notification system used to alert employees of emergencies;

        5. The name and telephone number of the Area Director/Unit Manager who can be contacted in the event of an emergency or for further information about the plan;

        6. Location designated as the shelter-in-place (SIP); and

      3. Employees will be trained on the emergency action plan when first hired, whenever the plan changes, whenever any person’s responsibilities under the plan change, and not less than annually.

      4. Emergency action team members (i.e., monitors, accountability employees) must receive training at least annually.

      5. The specific emergency action plan for an office must be maintained in their Safety and Health Program manual.

    7. Fire Extinguishers

      1. Employees are not to use fire extinguishers unless they have been trained in their proper use.

      2. The responsible OSHA Manager(s) will ensure that all portable fire extinguishers are visually checked on a monthly basis and inspected annually.

    8. Mail and Deliverables Processing

      1. Prior to processing mail and deliveries, it will be examined by an individual in the office who has been trained to recognize potential hazards associated with suspicious packages.

      2. Isolate each suspect piece in a sealable plastic bag and place in a remote location, if possible.

      3. . Notify the responsible OSHA Manager(s), who will evaluate the package and determine if additional preventative measures are necessary.

        1. When the responsible OSHA Manager(s) determines that additional measures are necessary, the Federal Protective Service or other appropriate law enforcement agency will be contacted.

        2. The RSHM will be notified when outside agencies are contacted.

      4. All other mail should be opened using a letter opener, not your hands. Use minimal movement to avoid spilling any possible content.

      5. In the case of a spill or leakage of a suspicious substance:

        1. The spilled material should be covered with anything available (e.g., paper, trash can) and no attempt will be made to clean it up.

        2. The area where the package is located will be isolated and no employees will be permitted to enter.

        3. For anyone who has potentially had contact with the package contents, soap and water cleaning is suggested where possible in order to prevent the spread of contaminants.

        4. Any such incident must be reported to the responsible OSHA Manager(s) and the RSHM.

        5. Any contaminated garments will be removed as soon as possible.

        6. The responsible OSHA Manager(s) must provide a list of all individuals who may have been involved in the handling of the parcel or questionable material to officials who may need it for medical follow-up or law enforcement.

    9. Ergonomics

      1. All offices will follow the ergonomics program provided in this manual. In addition, each office will complete the Computer Workstation Evaluation (Chapter 20) for each workstation

      2. In order to reduce stressors at computer workstations, the guidelines in OSHA publication 3092, Working Safely with Video Display Terminals, must be taken into consideration.

    10. First Aid

      1. First Aid kits must be available in every office and GSA vehicle.

      2. The first aid procedures outlined in the First Aid and CPR Chapter (Chapter 15) must be followed.

    11. Lighting

      1. Emergency lighting will be provided in accordance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes or the local authority, whichever is applicable.