Beyond paper cuts: Top 3 office injuries

It doesn’t take heavy equipment or scaffolding to cause an accident. Injuries happen in the office too.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 64,000 office and administrative support workers were sidelined by injuries in 2012. And that number doesn’t include an additional 28,270 injured workers in management, business, and financial occupations.*
Here are the top three office injuries, and ways to prevent them.

Stay on your feet

Trips and falls accounted for more than 28,000 office injuries in 2012. These injuries most often were caused by slips or tripping over an object on the floor, although some were caused by falls of less than six feet.

·     Clear the walkways. Pick up boxes and clutter that can cause a tripping hazard. Repair wrinkled carpets or uneven surfaces.
·     Use a ladder, not a chair. Provide a secure stepstool or ladder that employees can use to reach high shelves.
·     Provide traction. Stone and tile floors can be slippery. Place carpeting in high traffic areas, or switch to skid resistant surfaces.

Easy now
Overexertion was the second leading cause of injuries. Repetitive motion problems (like keyboard use) did account for some injuries, but that fell behind lifting/pulling injuries and bending/reaching activities.

·     Promote lifting safety. Place educational posters in the break room and raise safety issues during staff meetings.
·     Get a dolly. Ensure that storage rooms are equipped with lightweight hand trucks to assist staff who need to move heavy boxes.
·     Review ergonomics. Provide adjustable office chairs and monitor stands, and train employees in proper ergonomic positioning. 

Don’t get hit
The third most common office injuries occur when workers get struck by something.  

·     Stack safely. Office supplies or other materials should be stacked at a reasonable height on storage units that aren’t loaded beyond capacity. 
·     Keep it neat. Close file cabinet doors when not in use and avoid storing equipment in hallways or unexpected traffic areas.
·     Create pathways. Mark off safe pedestrian walkways through shop and warehouse areas, and remind everyone to stay alert.  

Manage claims with Nurse Hotline
SECURA’s Work Comp policyholders and their employees get 24/7 access to Nurse Hotline. Registered nurses provide skilled medical advice so you and your employees know how to respond when an accident occurs. That means you can avoid over-treating injuries or making risky judgment calls, and limit lost time.  

9 ways to improve your electrical cord safety

With all the electrical devices we have today, it can feel like your home is being overrun by cords. But before you start tucking all those cords out of sight, double check your electrical safety. Cords need to be kept in good condition and plugged in properly to avoid causing a fire. 

Prevent electrical overload
Overloaded outlets are a leading cause of household fires in the U.S. When electrical wires and circuits carry more amperage than they can handle, they overheat and can start a fire.

Circuit breakers and fuses are designed to prevent electrical overload, but they aren’t always reliable. A good rule of thumb is to use just one plug per outlet. Or if you’re using a high-demand appliance like an air conditioner or electric heater, restrict yourself to one device for each duplex (2 outlet) wall outlet. 

If you need more outlets for smaller appliances, use a power strip that’s plugged directly into the outlet. But be power smart! Plug only one power strip into a standard duplex outlet. Don’t use an extension cord to plug your power strip in, and never string multiple power strips together. 

Surge protectors protect your stuff
If you’re shopping for a power strip, consider upgrading to a surge protector. Surge protectors help safeguard your electrical appliances from surges in your electrical lines. 

Power spikes can be caused by storms or even sudden shifts in electrical demand. Surges can send extra voltage to your sensitive electronics, causing irreparable damage.   

Shop carefully, because not every power strip is a surge protector. Look for the words surge protection, and only choose those carrying the UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) or ELT (Electrical Testing Laboratories) seal.

Extension cords should be temporary
Extension cords are another significant source of electrical fire. Long-term use can cause the insulation in the cord to deteriorate, creating a risk of shock or fire.

If you find yourself relying on extension cords regularly or for extended periods of time, you need more electrical outlets. Consult an electrician and have additional outlets installed.

Other safety tips:
• Replace or repair damaged electrical cords. 
• Buy a longer extension cord rather than connecting multiple cords together.
• Don’t run extension cords under carpets. It prevents the cord from releasing heat and can melt the cord’s internal insulation.
• The same lesson applies when bundling cords. Wrap them loosely.
• If you have small children, install tamper-resistant outlets. 
• Heed the warning signs. If an outlet feels warm, buzzes or snaps, or if you have frequent problems with blown fuses, consult an electrician.

For more information, download this home electrical safety checklist from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

Proper maintenance can extinguish the risk of fire damage to your home

While you hopefully have never had to use a fire extinguisher, you should know where one is stored in your house, when to check it, and how to use it.

Follow these guidelines for your fire extinguisher:

Storing it
Keep your extinguisher near areas that are more likely to have a fire, such as the kitchen, furnace, and garage. Make sure it is readily accessible, and not blocked by doors, furniture, or anything else that would prevent you from reaching it in an emergency. Situate it with the operating instructions facing outward.

Maintaining it Check that the pressure is at the recommended level monthly, and that the hose, nozzle, and outside of the extinguisher are free of debris. Look for any signs of damage, rust, or a leak. If you find these, you’ll need to repair or replace the extinguisher.

Using it
If you experience a house fire, always call the fire department first. Only use the extinguisher if there is a small, localized fire, and make sure you have an available exit. Operate the extinguisher using the PASS technique recommended by FEMA:

Pull: Pull the pin to engage the extinguisher.
Aim: Point the nozzle or hose at the base of the fire.
Squeeze: Squeeze the handle.
Sweep: Move the nozzle or hose from side to side until the fire is out.

 If you can’t put out the fire or have trouble using the extinguisher, evacuate the house immediately.

You also should develop and discuss an escape plan with your family so everyone knows how to evacuate and where to meet in case of a fire. Learn more at

For more information, visit:

9 ways to prevent dog bite claims

They gained a reputation as man's best friend for being loyal, playful, and unconditionally loving — and most dogs live up to that title.

However, any dog has the potential to bite someone if it's feeling frightened or protective, no matter how well trained. In fact, dog bite claims were responsible for one third of all homeowners liability claims in 2012 — and those claims added up to more than $489 million in costs.

If your dog bites someone, you may be held liable, depending on the laws in your state. See the different laws here.

The best way to avoid liability is to prevent dog bites. Here are several ways to do that.

If you own a dog, follow these tips:
• Socialize your dog with other animals and people.
• Avoid playing aggressive games like tug of war.
• Don't leave infants or young children alone with your dog.
• Discourage others from approaching a dog while eating or sleeping.
• Make sure you're covered. Homeowners policies often include dog bite liability coverage. Check your policy or talk to your insurance agent to see whether you're covered, and consider an umbrella policy for extra liability protection.

If you're meeting a new dog, keep these pointers in mind:
• Never approach a strange dog.
• Ask the owner before petting a dog.
• Hold out your hand for the dog to sniff first, and pet the animal away from the head.
• Talk in a calm, quiet voice.

For more information, visit the American Humane Association or the Insurance Information Institute.