It’s becoming increasingly more common for people to work from home. Whether they work from their house every so often, or have entire jobs that take place at the home. With this new working lifestyle comes some challenges. It’s important for employers to keep their employees safe outside of the office — rather, in their new office.
The same dangers present in an office are at the home, but additional dangers can arise: a break-in, fire or natural event, or an accident with children and pets. How can employees keep their employees safe, and how can workers make sure their home is protected?
Prior to the trend of working from home, it was not uncommon to see homes outfitted with fully functional offices. These were for people who worked from home, or simply those who needed to complete other tasks at the house.
Working from home is not necessarily riskier than working in an office, but when you work from home there isn’t a boss, safety code, or standards that need to be met to keep everyone safe.
Each individual is unique and will have their own safety needs. Especially considering the time of day that is worked, what the job entails, and other variables.
What Do You Need to Do?
A home office should be no smaller than 36 square feet, with the work surface being at least 30 inches. Workers should also have the proper surge protection and power requirements to avoid damaging equipment or a potential fire situation.
- Never overload power strips with appliances.
- Make sure your computer is at the right height and your desk and chair are comfortable.
- Have a quality ergonomic chair, a good desk, and an option to be able to stand at your desk. Studies have shown the dangers of sitting all day.
- Secure your equipment, including: faxes, printers, scanners, computers and other materials.
- Meet with new clients or prospects in a public place instead of your home office.
- If you’re having a meeting or going to a meeting, make sure someone knows where you are and who you’re meeting with.
Most treatable home injuries go unreported, but some serious injuries happen and employers should be notified. Though telework likely prevents more injuries than those that occur, because the most dangerous part of work is having to get behind the wheel to get there.
Additional problems that arise:
- Poor posture
- Inadequate emergency practicing or planning
- Wiring and electrical equipment that isn’t safe or poses hazards
- Home that’s under construction or being modified contributes to unsafe environment
- The dangers that accompany having kids and pets in the house (they can knock over equipment, trip on wires, or cause other incidents)
Don’t Neglect Home Security
When working from home, you’ll be aiming to cover a lot of safety measures, but the most important of them is home security. If the home itself isn’t safe, then the other safety measures won’t have as much significance.
- Purchase and install a home security system.
- Have a cell phone nearby and emergency contact information.
- Install quality doors and deadbolts on all exterior doors and use them.
- Have window treatments that hide what’s in your office so valuables can’t be seen.
- Install motion sensor lights that will alert you if anyone is wondering around the yard.
- Have identification numbers on important equipment and an updated list of your inventory.
- Make sure your foliage is trimmed so that the house can be seen and no one can hide behind foliage.
- Use caution with people who are delivering items, the same caution you would use at an office. Make sure they can identify themselves and state who they are.
Important Note: Review your homeowners insurance policy and have a rider to cover your home office. Most companies make you take out a rider for the home, and you want to be covered for whatever happens.