Working From Home Safety Talk
Working from home is now a reality for a growing number of employees. Because you are in your own home it can be easy to overlook safety practices that you may take for granted in an office.
Yet many health and safety roles, rights, and responsibilities are just as applicable for at-home workers as they are for more traditional workplaces, including:
- Reporting workplace injuries
- Requirements for training
- Following safe work practices
- Complying with any reasonable workplace health and safety policies
Safety Concerns When Working at Home
There are many challenges to working from home, but safety does not need to be one of them.
Areas of safety concern for at-home workers include:
- Ergonomic hazards
- Electrical hazards
- Fire safety
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Mental health
Safety Practices for Working at Home
It is easy to forget about safety when working from home. A new workplace means possible new hazards, even in your own home. Below are some tips to ensure you are working safely when not in the office.
Ergonomic Best Practices
- Buy a quality office chair that provides the necessary support to the back, legs, buttocks, and arms while reducing exposures to awkward postures, contact stress, and forceful exertions.
- Keep forearms are close to parallel with the floor when keyboarding. Wrists and hands should be in a neutral position, i.e., in the same plane as forearms.
- Set up your computer monitor so it is roughly an arm’s length from your eyes, with top of the viewable portion of the screen slightly below eye level, and free from noticeable glare during work times.
- When seated, your feet are flat on the floor or are fully supported by a footrest.
- Maintain a safe posture. Regardless of how good your working posture is, working in the same position or sitting still for prolonged periods is not healthy. You should change your working position frequently throughout the day and take breaks.
- Set up work area lighting that is directed toward the side or behind your line of vision, not in front or above it.
Electrical Safety Best Practices
- Avoid overloading outlets.
- Regularly check electrical cords for damage.
- Use extension cords only when needed and on a temporary basis.
- Place equipment close to electrical outlets.
- Place electrical cords and wires in an organized manner so that there are no tripping hazards.
Fire Safety Best Practices
- Have a working smoke detector in the workspace.
- Maintain a home multipurpose fire extinguisher, which you know how to use and is readily available.
- Keep papers and other potential combustibles at least 3 feet away from radiators, heaters, and other heat sources.
General Housekeeping Tips
- Keep floors clear and free of slip and/or trip hazards. For example, clean, in good repair, and free of obstructions.
- Ensure carpets are well secured to the floor, free of frayed or loose seams.
- Ensure rugs have foam backing or an anti-slip mat.
- Ensure stairs with four or more steps have sturdy handrails.
- Maintain a first aid kit accessible and properly supplied.
Mental Health Tips
- Keep a regular work schedule. Take a shower in the morning, change your clothes, and get into the mindset of working once you get into your office.
- Set up an office in a separate space that is free of distractions if possible.
- Maintain contact with your coworkers via Zoom or email.
- Take breaks when needed.
While working from home, your safety remains a priority to your employer. It must be a priority for you too. Be sure to identify and eliminate or reduce any potential safety hazards in your home and workspace.
1. Are there any safety concerns specific to your workspace?
2. How can you improve your workspace so that it is safer?
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