Compared to the roles of a power-line worker, bounty hunter, or coal miner, working in an office may not seem very dangerous. What's the worst that could happen -- a papercut or two? As The Office's Dwight Schrute would say, FALSE! Even in the comfy confines of an office, you may be surprised to know what types of mishaps could occur. Each year, four million people suffer a workplace injury in the U.S. Unless you want to be one of them, it’s recommended to show precaution.

Wait, that happened?

Beyond paper-cutting and toe-stubbing, the majority of office workers don’t experience an injury while on the job. However, exceptions do occur, to the misfortune of those harmed. In one case, an elementary school gym teacher was struck by lightning -- while sitting in his own office. That requires some extremely bad luck, but is scary nonetheless. Another office injury occurred to a British teaching assistant who tripped at work and dislocated her finger, receiving $800,000 in compensation for the event.

In similarly melodramatic form, a worker from New York attributed her significant hearing loss to 31 years of listening to loud and irate customers. Still, apart from the lightning strike, these incidents pale in comparison severity-wise to the waitress at Texas Roadhouse who collapsed a lung after lifting a tray above her head.

More realistic injuries happen, too

While it’s unlikely you’ll be hit by lightning inside your office, some office-related injuries do occur fairly frequently. Perhaps the most common office-caused injury is carpal tunnel syndrome, which can cause pain and numbness in one's hand. Carpal tunnel can be triggered or made worse by typing, a very common task for many office workers. As a result, it's recommended to take a ten minute break from typing every hour. While you’re at it, this break is also useful for alleviating eye strain, which can occur fairly severely if you stare at your computer for hours each day.

Small precautions make a big difference

There are several things that any office worker can do to prevent against office injuries. Many of them are listed in this infographic published by Katherman Briggs & Greenberg. In addition to hourly breaks designed to rest your eyes and hands, they include:

  • Adjust your chair and workstation for optimal comfort to avoid back strain.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather each day, to avoid mishaps both while at and driving to work.
  • Follow your office's unique safety standards, as usually assigned by HR.
  • Ask for help when lifting heavy objects; there's no need to break your back.
  • Keep your desk area uncluttered to avoid both mental and physical strain.

These small precautions can make a big difference in preventing office workers from experiencing an injury, either minor or major. While offices remain one of the safer working environments, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Check out the Infographic, “Michael Scott’s Guide to Surviving Your 9-5” from Katherman Briggs & Greenberg.

Office Safety