Environment, Health and Safety Manual - Chapter 02.06: General Policies - Office Safety and Health


Environment, Health and Safety Manual - Chapter 02.06: General Policies - Office Safety and Health



To provide a safe and healthful environment throughout the University facilities in the general office setting.


These requirements shall apply to all office work units as a minimum standard of general office safety.


This policy prescribes safety precautions to be observed by employees in office areas.

Floors, Doors, and Passageways

  1. Walk, don’t run or slide, when crossing floors.
  2. When floors are being waxed or washed, observe signs and proceed cautiously.
  3. If water or other substance is found on the floor, remove it or report it to housekeeping at once.
  4. Pick up small objects, such as rubber bands, paper clips, pencils, etc. These objects can create tripping hazards.
  5. When approaching a hall or passageway hidden by a corner, keep to the right and go slowly in order to avoid bumping into someone who may be coming from behind the corner.
  6. Shoes with broad heels take the corners more safely.
  7. Chairs, footstools, wastebaskets, and other articles are not to be placed in aisles.
  8. Telephones, office machines and computers are to be placed so that the cord will not obstruct aisles and passageways.
  9. Approach doors with caution and open slowly. Someone may be on the other side. Stand and walk clear of exit ways. Someone coming through the other side may not know you are there. When double doors are involved, use the door on the right.
  10. Hallways are to be kept clear to prevent injury and obstructions during emergency evacuation.


  1. Pause before starting down stairs. Never hurry when going either up or down stairs. Proceed deliberately and cautiously.
  2. Keep to the right with the hand on the handrail. Make sure you have completely ascended or descended the stairs before releasing your hold on the handrail.
  3. Keep your eyes on the steps ahead and refrain from doing anything which distracts attention, such as searching in your handbag for a key, turning your head to talk with a fellow employee, etc.
  4. Keep stairways free of debris and unobstructed.
  5. Defective handrails, and stair treads as well as inadequate illumination are to be reported immediately for correction.


  1. Keep the floor free of water, soap, and other objects that can cause someone to fall.
  2. Waste towel containers are not to be used for disposing of useless glass, pins, needles, or any other articles that may cause injury to housekeeping personnel.
  3. Do not place drinking glasses, cups, or other items on towel dispensers.


  1. Employees should not lean out of windows nor are they to sit on the sill or casing of a window, even when the window is closed.
  2. No object is to be thrown out of a window.

Office Furniture

  1. Drawers and doors are not to be left open; someone may fall over or knock against them.
  2. Place objects on desks and tables in such a manner that they will not fall or easily be displaced.
  3. When opening desk drawers, care is to be exercised to prevent them from falling out.
  4. Place materials in cabinets so that when doors are opened the contents will not fall out.
  5. When a sheet of glass has been used to cover desktops, counters, or cabinets, the edges and corners should be rounded and smooth. Broken or chipped glass is to be removed immediately.
  6. Chairs are to be inspected periodically to be sure there are no broken rollers, nuts, bolts, supports, etc.
  7. Office furniture is to be kept free of splinters, rough edges, loose and defective parts at all times.
  8. Office furniture is not be used as a ladder. Obtain a ladder that meets the needs of your operations.
  9. Supply cabinets, filing cabinets, and other such equipment which may become overbalanced are to be secured by bolting together, to a wall, or to a floor where possible.
  10. Do not open more than one file drawer at a time, particularly the top drawer. Distribute materials evenly through files.
  11. It is a “falling object hazard” to use top of cabinets as a “gather all”. Keep them clear.

Electrical Cords and Outlets

  1. Household type extension cords are not to be used. Extension cords are not to be run through doorways or openings in the ceiling, floor or walls.
  2. Electrical cords, which have become frayed, and plugs that are broken are to be replaced immediately.
  3. Plugs are to be replaced with closed front type. Do not attempt to tape a broken plug.
  4. Place equipment near an outlet to avoid cords running across the floor, aisles, and through doorways.
  5. If necessary to have a temporary cord running across a walkway, tape the cord in place or provide a cord enclosure guard to avoid creating a tripping hazard.
  6. Machines must have ground wire connections and be connected to grounded outlets. Do not alter plugs to eliminate the grounding connection.
  7. Defective outlets are to be repaired immediately. Prior to repair, such outlets are to be isolated or covered so they cannot be used.
  8. Raised outlet (pedestal type) is not to be located in aisle ways or under the desk in the footrest region.
  9. Unused floor outlets, which are flush with the floor, must have a protective cover in place at all times.
  10. Portable equipment such as fans and heaters are to be equipped with three wire grounding connections.
  11. Heaters must be equipped with approved automatic cut-off devices to prevent fire if the unit is accidentally turned over.

Office Machines and Equipment

  1. Office machines, particularly data processing machines, have many hazards such as moving belts, rollers, gears, etc., which are to be adequately guarded before being placed in service. Normally guards are installed by the manufacturer as standard equipment. If not, they are to be installed locally before the machine is placed in operation.
  2. Electrically operated machines, if not double insulated, are to be equipped with a three-conductor cord and grounded. Do not modify plugs to connect them to an ungrounded circuit.
  3. Unplug all electrically operated equipment prior to attempting to clear a jam, to make an adjustment, or to alter a malfunctioning part.
  4. When changing paper on a printer connected to a computer, when changing the ribbon, adjusting the belt, or making any other adjustments to the printer, it is to be turned off.
  5. Do not remove protective guards, open protective hoods, open side doors, or remove side panels from machines while they are in operation.
  6. Ensure through periodic maintenance checks that hinges and latches, which hold protective guards, hoods, doors, and panels in place, are in safe working condition. If such guards are found defective have them repaired immediately.
  7. When machines have certain moving parts exposed, due to necessity, do not wear dangling jewelry and loose clothing that could become entangled in the moving parts.
  8. Do not place objects on top of machines. Vibration from the machine during operation could cause the object to fall off and hit someone.
  9. When maintenance personnel are working on equipment, do not attempt to help move the machine. Engaging in such activity could cause a muscle strain.
  10. (Computer hazards are enumerated in a separate guide.)

Miscellaneous Precautions

  1. Sharp or pointed objects, such as knives, pens, pencils, scissors, and envelope openers are not to be left on the edge of a desk or in any place where they may cause injury. They are to be carried in a manner to avoid accident.
  2. Handle paper in a manner that can avoid cutting the hands on the edges.
  3. Avoid possible injury to the eyes by not throwing pens, pencils, paper clips, and rubber bands.
  4. Avoid pinching or puncturing the fingers by carefully loading or clearing jammed staplers.
  5. Employees whose duties involve the handling of money should wash their hands frequently to reduce the possibility of infection.
  6. Electric fans are not to be handled while in operation. They are not to be placed on the floor in locations where they are likely to injure employees. Fans are to have blade guards with openings not larger than one-half (1/2) inch.

Emergency Response

  1. Each employee is to be familiar with the location of emergency exits and fire extinguishers. They are, also, to be familiar with the emergency information located in the work unit’s safety and health plan.
  2. Each employee is to be familiar with the hazards associated with the use of printing and duplicating fluids and machine cleaning fluids.
  3. Each employee is to be familiar with the procedures for reporting on-the-job accidents and injuries. One should know where to obtain medical care.

Contact Information

Policy Contact

Environment, Health and Safety
1120 Estes Drive
Campus Box #1650
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1650
Phone: 919-962-5507

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Article ID: 131925
Thu 4/8/21 9:19 PM
Mon 7/4/22 1:16 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
01/28/2019 11:00 PM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Executive Director
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
01/28/2019 11:00 PM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
01/28/2019 11:00 PM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
09/01/2026 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
04/01/2012 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Environment, Health and Safety