Companies

${ company.text }

Be the first to rate this company Not yet rated ${ company.score }

Career Resources

${ getArticleTitle(article) }

Topics

${ tag.display_name }

Community

${ getCommunityPostText(community_post) }

Writers

${ author.full_name }

${ author.short_bio }

InHerSight logo
Jobs Community For Employers

Join InHerSight's growing community of professional women and get matched to great jobs and more!

Sign up now

Already have an account? Log in ›

  1. Blog
  2. Culture & Professionalism
  3. December 18, 2019

The 2 Kinds of ‘Not Safe for Work’

It’s not just about blue jokes

The 2 Kinds of ‘Not Safe for Work’

If you’re like most people, you understand that not safe for work, or NSFW, usually refers to sexual content or off-color jokes. Anything not suitable for the workplace can be deemed NSFW, even if it’s not intended that way. The things you say or the videos, memes, or links you share can contribute to either an inclusive workplace or one that marginalizes, threatens, or discriminates against others.

But there’s another meaning behind NSFW, and it deals with your physical safety at work. We’ll explore both.

Read more:We Asked: What's the Most Embarrassing Thing You've Ever Done in an Interview

It’s not all nudge nudge wink wink: how to know if it’s not safe for work and when to listen to that doubt

Design leader Jessica Brown wrote a great brief history of the acronym at Vice, saying the warning (which was added to Merriam-Webster in 2015) evolved from content not suitable for children to “more a warning that you could find yourself having a very awkward conversation with human resources.”

When it comes to sending or receiving NSFW work emails, we shouldn’t need the acronym at all, says Judith Kallos, a WordPress consultant and business coach. “By virtue of having to type it should tell any rational thinking person all they need to know. They should have enough common sense and respect to not send emails with questionable content to someone’s work email.”

The internet allows us to easily share—and overshare. As Mind Tools’ editor Lucy Bishop put its: “Modern work practices and our addiction to social media has blurred the line between the personal and the professional. We are constantly being told to bring our‘authentic’ selves to work.” But the things we say and share with our friends outside the office shouldn’t necessarily enter the office. And if you’ve decided something is NSFW, perhaps you might consider whether it’s okay for friends too

While forwarding jokes and gifs (NSFW or otherwise) to friends is one thing, doing the same with work colleagues can become a career-ending blunder. Your actions, could be considered discriminatory or sexual harassment, even if you didn’t intend them that way.

Erring on the side of caution is the best practice when you’re wondering if you should send a possibly NSFW link along or even if you should visit a site. Know and stick to your company’s HR policies regarding what is deemed appropriate material and use of office email and chat and even how you use company property and devices (i.e., your phone and computer).

Not only do you not want to lose your job or risk being reprimanded, you also don’t want to make your coworkers feel threatened, uncomfortable, or unsafe.

Read more:13 Signs of a Toxic Workplace & When It Becomes Illegal

When it’s physically not safe for work

There's more to NSFW than blue jokes or images you don't want your boss to see. Attorney Wayne D'Angelo, a partner at Kelley Drye & Warren and editor of the firm's Not Safe for Work blog, tells us that while workplaces are generally far safer today than they were for previous generations of workers, workplace safety remains a big concern.

“Most employers are subject to a wide variety of federal, state, and local laws and regulations to ensure that their employees can perform their job duties safely. And if employers ignore those regulations and create an environment that is NSFW, they can face significant fines and penalties.”

The National Safety Council estimates the total cost of work-related preventable injuries and deaths to the U.S. economy in 2017 alone at more than $161 billion. Obviously some places of work and jobs are riskier than others. But even if you work in the relative safety of an office setting, you can be injured on the job, whether tripping over an open file drawer, loose carpeting or electrical cords, or putting your back out from sitting at a workstation that isn't designed with ergonomic principles in mind.

Another example of NSFW is noise. While jackhammers may not tend to operate in your office, your hearing can be damaged by working at places like schools, restaurants, or nightclubs—anywhere you have to shout to make yourself heard to a person an arm’s length away.

“Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules do not apply solely to heavy industry and manufacturing sites,” D’Angelo explains. “Office employers are similarly required to make sure their workspaces are free from recognized hazards and are subject to many of the same injury and illness reporting requirements as manufacturers and other industries.”

Read more:Books to Read if You're Working in a Boys' Club

Rate this article

Share this article

Photo of Stephanie Olsen

Stephanie Olsen

Contributor

Stephanie Olsen is a freelance writer and copy editor. She writes about everything from women’s issues in the workplace and Ethiopian coffee culture to facilities management and expatriate life. Laughs uproariously at her own jokes.  

Don't Miss Out

Create a free account to get unlimited access to our articles and to join millions of women growing with the InHerSight community

Looks like you already have an account!
Click here to login ›

Invalid email. Please try again!

Sign up with a social account or...

If you already have an account, click here to log in. By signing up, you agree to InHerSight's Terms and Privacy Policy

Success!

You now have access to all of our awesome content

Rate Your Company

Your experience in the workplace matters! Anonymously share your feedback on a current or former employer. It only takes three minutes!

Popular

  1. ${post.title}

About InHerSight

InHerSight is the career navigator for working women. Founded on the belief that data measurement leads to advancement, we manage the largest database of women-rated companies, and we use those insights to match our users to jobs and companies where they can achieve their goals. Anonymously rate your current or former employer now to unlock our one-of-a-kind resources.

Topics in this article