Many workers were already working remotely before the shelter-in-place occurred; however, that number dramatically increased, and also meant that many were working from home for the first time.
Of course, no matter if employees are working at your company’s location or remotely from home, workplace safety is a priority. One thing to note is that OSHA does not conduct home office inspections, nor does it require employers to do so. So, the question becomes, how do your company’s safety and HR professionals protect workers who are out of sight?
Here are some tips to help you get started.
Home Office Hazard Assessment and Tips
Have a work hazard assessment or checklist be part of a telework agreement. This can cover off on many safety concerns.
And, of course, know that it is you and your employee’s responsibility to set up and maintain a safe home office. These are just a few things you might have on your hazard assessment.
- Is there a working smoke detector nearby?
- Is there a fire extinguisher and does your employee know how to use it?
- Is there an evacuation plan in case of fire?
- Is the floor clear of clutter and tripping hazards?
- Are carpets secured to the floor and free of frayed or worn seams?
- Is there adequate lighting?
- Is the workspace free from excessive noise?
- Is there a carbon monoxide detector?
These are a few resources that might help you create your hazard risk assessment.
• Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs
• Home Hazard Assessment Guide, part 1: Hazard Identification
• Hazard Assessment Checklist
Set up an ergonomic workstation to help prevent back, shoulder and neck pains, such as:
- Use a rolling chair equipped with back support and ample padding.
- Adjust chair so feet rest on floor and knees are level with hips.
- Use phone headset to prevent you from cradling the phone between the neck and shoulder.
Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common types of workplace injuries, whether working on-location or in a remote/home office. A home office environment can present additional tripping risks such as children’s toys and pets.
- Prevent slips by wearing proper footwear (yes, even when at your place of residence!). You want to avoid just wearing socks that can be slippery when going up and down stairs or walking on wood, vinyl, or laminate flooring.
- Keep the walkways clear of clutter. Make sure cords are safely secured.
- Do not walk distracted; that means, DON’T walk while talking, emailing, or texting on your phone.
- Use a handrail, if there is one, when going up or down stairs.
- Do not overload outlets so make sure you have enough to accommodate your equipment.
- Outlets should be equipped with three-pronged ground configuration, and equipment should be plugged into surge protectors.
- Regularly inspect electrical and extension cords for damage.
- Never run cords under rugs, carpets doors or windows.
- Do not use extension cords as permanent wiring because it can create a fire hazard.
Training. Work from home employees should be trained in recognition of workplace hazards and ergonomic techniques.
Put safety first. No matter where your employees are working, their work space should meet the same health and safety standards as on-location provides.