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Work Health and Safety Blog

There's so much happening in the world of health & safety. Changes in legislation and requirements, changes in best practice, changes in ... you name it. Here's my take on making it simple. Simply Genius WHS - stop guessing... manage with confidence.

Work at home - office risks - hazard identification

Maralyn Kastel - Saturday, June 30, 2012

Workplace health & safety responsibility goes beyond the employer’s place of business. It includes any place where the PCBU (employer) requires or permits a worker to perform work, including the worker’s home, vehicle or work site. Working from home is not without risks. 

Are you at risk?
Do a risk assessment to see where you have potential for accidents and injuries The following conditions are well documented which have resulted in death and/or serious injury in home work environments.

Electrical – trip or electrocution
Electrical extension cords on floors are often trip hazards.   Electrical cords are easily damaged by chairs running over them which then become an electrical hazard.  Laptops cords need to be tested and tagged.

Do a quick check of electrical hazards.
  1. Do you use electric radiators/fans? These can be hazardous and are well known as the cause of fires.
  2. Do you have overloaded power boards and an excessive amount of double adaptors – electrocution and fire risk
  3. Are any power cords frayed?
Do you have electrical circuit protection? eg RCDs or circuit breakers – these reduce the risk of electric shock and electrocution

Workstation arrangement
Laptops and workstations with inappropriately set up seating arrangements results in poor posture and resulting pain in the shoulders, neck, arms and general muscle soreness in the short term.  In the long term the risks increase of carpel tunnel syndrome and soft tissue injury through incorrect ergonomics of the work area.

Do a quick check of workstation set up

  1. Is the seat surface height adjustable?
  2. Is the seat surface deep and wide enough for comfort?
  3. Is the backrest easily adjustable in height to provide mid lumbar support (lower back region)?
  4. Is the backrest angle adjustable relative to the seat surface?

Eye comfort
Eye discomfort from spending lengthy periods in front of a screen include eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision.

Do a quick check of your visual comfort?
  1. Are reflections a problem?
  2. Do you look down at the keyboard constantly?
  3. Is the height of the monitor easily adjustable?
  4. Is the head able to be held vertical without repeated rotation to do the work?

Good lighting in home workplaces is essential so you can see clearly and safely perform your work.

Do a quick check of your visual comfort?

  1. Is there a sufficient amount of light in an area
  2. What type of lighting is used?
  3. Where are the light sources coming from?
Is lighting designed specifically for the job tasks?

Other potential hazards in the home office - What else can cause an accident or injury?

  1. Are filing cabinets non-tip?
  2. Are there obstructions or objects lying around? eg kids toys etc
  3. Is there potential for slips, trips or falls?
Do mats have curling edges?

Do a risk assessment of your home office to make sure you have safe and healthy workplace.

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