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Even office jobs have safety risks

While the vast majority of poison exposures occur in the home, the workplace — despite its sometimes bland and sterile environment — has its own risks. • It's easy to take for granted dangers in the office, particularly when focused on getting a job done. But in 2008, 1.75 percent of all poison exposures reported to poison centers occurred in the workplace, putting workplaces a distant second to homes as sites where poison exposures occurred. • The American Association of Poison Control Centers wants to reduce poisonings in every setting, including the office. It offers the following tips at keeping the office poison-free:

Be careful when handling laser printer cartridges. A poison exposure can occur when laser printer cartridge ink is spilled. Fumes, dust or ozone from the cartridges can be dangerous if inhaled.

Fluorescent lightbulbs contain silica or mercury and should be handled and replaced by professionals. The same goes for energy-efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs, or CFL bulbs.

Beware the lunchroom, and particularly the office refrigerator. Foods stored in the company break or lunch room refrigerator can be outdated, leaving the potential for food poisonings.

Office supplies such as keyboard cleaners, markers, glues or white-out help to get the job done, but can be misused if huffed. Make sure these key office supplies are used for their intended purpose.

Don't treat air fresheners in the bathrooms or other workplace cleaning supplies casually. Mixing or handling such products improperly can cause irritation to the skin or breathing difficulties.

Read labels and use caution when taking over-the-counter or prescription medications, particular if handling potentially dangerous equipment or instruments on the job.

Be wary of bugs. Fire ants can enter an office building through unsealed windows or siding. To some, fire ants are a nuisance, but to those allergic to their bites, such an infestation can cause a bad reaction. The brown recluse spider, as well, can be found in old stored boxes or in unused files, old file cabinets or drawers.

If you believe you've been exposed to a poison or have questions about whether a substance is poisonous, call your local poison center toll-free at 1-800-222-1222.

Even office jobs have safety risks 05/20/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 20, 2010 12:21am]
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