What are electrical safety risks in the office?

Compared to many other industries, office environments are fairly safe. There are still thousands of injuries that take place in office environments, but most of them are related to falls and other similar accidents. Just because an office is typically quite safe, however, doesn’t mean that the existing hazards should be ignored. Electrical hazards are one of the most dangerous things in an office environment because electricity is used to power computers, lights, monitors, and much more. The following are some specific safety risks associated with electricity in the office.

Extension Cords

It is quite common for people in an office to use an extension cord to bring electricity where it is needed when there isn’t an existing outlet. Extension cords introduce a variety of new hazards to an area, which is why they should only be used for limited amounts of time. One example of a hazard is having someone roll their chair over the wire, which could cause damage and increase the risk of a shock. Another would be the increased risk of unsafely having the cord ripped out of the socket, which can also cause shocks and lead to fires.

Overloaded Outlets

Overloaded outlets are another serious risk in many office environments. On a single desk it is not uncommon to see computers, multiple monitors, radios, phone chargers, and any number of other things. When multiple desks are nearby, they may even share a power strip, which is then plugged into a single outlet. The draw on that outlet can potentially exceed the amount of current that it can safely handle. While most of the time this will simply trip a circuit breaker (either in the power strip, or in a central location), it does increase the risk of fire and shocks.

Overheated Electrical Equipment

Using electricity generates heat, which needs to be able to escape from the area. When there is insufficient ventilation, or worse, when the wires are covered up by flooring or other things, it can be quite dangerous. In addition to the risk of fire, the unsafe temperatures can damage the electrical systems, which can increase the risk of small arc flashes, sparks, and other dangerous events.

Capacitors in Computer Equipment

If you look inside a computer, a monitor, or most other types of computer equipment you will see multiple capacitors on each board. These capacitors help to ensure all the components are able to get the power that is needed in a clean and consistent way. They can also hold electricity even after the device has been unplugged, however, which can be quite dangerous. If someone doesn’t take the proper precautions when working on this equipment, they are putting themselves at risk for a potentially dangerous shock.

These are just a few of the many electrical hazards that are present in office environments. Taking the proper precautions is very important for all office employees to ensure they are safe, and the equipment will operate properly long into the future.


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