Office safety

Arizona State University academic, research and ancillary support operations, and student organizations have office workspace and office environments to support each department or unit on campus. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires ASU to maintain a safe work environment for all employees. EHS has developed office safety compliance guidelines to address general safety issues in office settings.

EHS offers an Office Safety at ASU course that covers multiple office safety-related hazards and preventions, which includes: 

  • Back injury.
  • Chemical awareness.
  • Collisions.
  • Ergonomics.
  • Slips, trips and falls.

Schedule department-specific class to meet your department-specific needs.

Electrical safety

Ensure that unsafe electrical conditions and practices are promptly reported to your supervisor and to Facilities Development and Management Customer Service Desk at 480-965-3633. Only authorized and qualified electricians may install, service or repair electrical equipment or wiring. All electrical equipment and lighting must be tested and approved by a recognized testing laboratory. Periodic self-inspection should be conducted of your area for the following to help identify and correct electrical hazards and maintain compliance:

  • Check to ensure receptacles and cover plates are serviceable and adequately placed for occupant use, as well as free of cracks and damage, and securely mounted.
    • Receptacles located outdoors, in damp areas, or located near a water source must have ground fault protection and rating.
  • Electrical equipment cords and plugs must be of dead front construction with no metal exposed and the cord must be visible to inspect and in good condition.
  • Electrical wires or cords cannot run through doorways, windows, floors, ceilings or walls.
  • Flexible cords, extension cords, multi-plug adapters or similar electrical equipment is prohibited.
    • Exceptions include any adapter or cord with an operational circuit breaker as long as used within the recommended use, design and load capacities of the manufacturer. Flexible cords and extension cords are acceptable for temporary use only and must be a minimum of 16 gauge with ground, three-prong.


EHS provides a web-based training program to help with ergonomics-related issues that may come up at ASU. The course contains links to many resources at ASU including furniture vendors and others that can provide assistance. There is also a self-evaluation tool for office-related work designed to help you with the proper setup of your computer workstation. 

There are two ergonomic classes available on Canvas: general ergonomic training and one for animal workers, ergonomics for DACT

Ergonomic tips for telecommuters

Set up your workstation:

  • Raise the top of your monitor to eye level or below.
  • Screen distance should be an arm's length away, or 18 to 30 inches.
  • Keep elbows at your sides and rest them gently on armrests.
  • Maintain neutral wrists and forearms parallel to the ground.
  • Rest feet flat on the floor with knees at or below the hip level.
    • Leave a 1-inch-to-2-inch space between calves and the seat's edge.

Using a laptop?

  • If you have a keyboard, mouse and monitor, raise your laptop off to the side for dual monitor use.
  • Use a stand or a sturdy object to raise your laptop to eye level.
  • Use a separate keyboard and mouse or a stand-alone monitor and type on your laptop.

Work surface to high?

  • Type on a lower surface like a keyboard tray, lap desk or a side table.
  • Use a footrest or box to support your legs from dangling.
  • Use a taller chair or raise your seat with a cushion.

Prefer to stand?

  • Find a counter or high surface.
  • Try standing on a kitchen mat.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.

Take a break

Try micro-break exercises every 30 minutes.

  • Giving your body a break from prolonged and repetitive activities can help reduce your risk of injuries.
  • When you exercise and move around, you activate your muscles and help improve circulation, energy and mood. Movement can help you feel refreshed when you resume your work.

The next position is the best position.

  • No matter how good your posture is, if you have not moved in an hour, you are still burdening your same body structures in the same direction for an hour. 

Switch it up.

  • If you are able, try standing, varying your sitting positions, standing with one leg forward, switching hands, changing locations or alternating tasks.
  • Take active breaks by changing how you perform a task to reduce the risk of repetitive motion injuries. 

Check in with yourself.

  • Bring your equipment to you instead of conforming your body to your equipment. 
  • Set a timer every 30 minutes to identify and correct awkward postures, including:
    • Crossing your legs.
    • Holding your fingers up when mousing.
    • Hunching over your laptop.
    • Leaning on your elbow.
    • Rotating your neck to the right. 

Stay hydrated.

  • Keep drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Take water breaks.

Take care of yourself.

  • You can work more effectively and comfortably when you take care of all aspects of your health and wellness.

Protect your eyes

Reduce eye strain and fatigue.

  • 20-20-20: Look away from your screen every 20 minutes, for at least 20 seconds, at something 20 feet away.
  • Avoid facing or having your back to a window to reduce glare.

Fire protection and prevention

All employees should be aware of the fire protection equipment within each facility they work or reside in, know fire safety and prevention measures to ensure a safe environment. This can be accomplished through special training classes and employee development classes conducted by EHS. This helps ensure employee awareness to common compliance issues:

  • How to report a fire and how to evacuate a building as well as extinguish a fire.
  • Maintaining the automatic operation of fire-rated doors and maintaining a clear unobstructed exit passageway. All fire doors are designed to be latched closed or connected to the fire alarm system to automatically latch closed when the fire alarm system is activated.
  • Maintaining public areas such as corridors free of obstruction and combustible materials, including the limitation of paperwork, posters, and similar combustible products on walls and doors.
  • Maintaining a safe egress system by ensuring the exit system is maintained free of any obstruction.

Heat generating devices

The ASU Fire Marshal's Office does not approve the installation, placement or use of any personal space heater appliance or device in any ASU building or facility. This is due to the high risk of fire and heat-related injuries from the units. We recommend contacting ASU Facilities Maintenance for adjustments in the heating and cooling units in the building. 

Precautions and awareness

To ensure a safe work environment, each individual must employ common sense, know physical limitations and compliance codes, display an attentive attitude towards their surroundings. Common safety-related hazards and compliance to help ensure a safe environment:

  • Be aware of the surrounding area for slip and trip hazards. Correct as necessary.
  • Improper storage of materials can lead to injury and violate the fire codes. Storage is prohibited:
    • In a manner that obstructs the operation, visibility and accessibility of fire protection equipment or devices.
    • In corridors or hallways.
    • In mechanical or electrical rooms.
    • On top of lockers, shelving units, cabinets, or other furniture units or equipment.
    • Under stairways or on the stairwell landing.
    • Within 18 inches of the fire sprinkler deflector in facilities that have fire sprinklers protecting the area.
    • Within 24 inches of the ceiling in non-fire sprinkler facilities.
  • Keep office areas clean, orderly and sanitary, including exit passageways, storerooms and service rooms.
  • Keep surfaces of stairs, ramps and exit passageways free from defects, obstructions, debris and loose items that can cause a slip, trip and fall hazard, or restrict egress.
  • Know and comply with applicable codes for use and storage of chemicals.
  • Know your limitations and use appropriate equipment and apparatus to prevent injury.
General Information

EHS is available to assist with safety and health complaints including concerns related to lab and shop safety, indoor air quality, work station set up (ergonomics), and general safety concerns.