You probably don’t perceive it, but home offices can be dangerous. Here are some physical dangers you should know and avoid.
Home offices appear to be safe places to work. After all, it’s your home.
But home office security isn’t easy. A home is commonplace for accidents of all types. When employees work from home or a self-employed person runs a business from home, the risk of accidents can increase.
Homeworkers bring home the health risks associated with working in a traditional place of business without the safeguards in an area of business outside the home.
How to Make Home Offices Safer
If you and your staff members work from home, you need to teach yourself about some of the most common home office hazards to not fall victim to one and the steps you can follow to eliminate the risks and prevent injury.
Some of the security measures to put in place for home offices make – should be – common sense.
But it is easy for someone working from home to ignore or forget basic safety precautions in their day-to-day activities.
Safety is essential and should be introduced at home. Use this guide to protect yourself, including your staff members and your family, from the risks of working from home.
Home Office Computer Security
Computers and other devices that you rely on to make money and run your business can be dangerous to your financial and personal security if you’re not careful.
Home-based businesses are just as vulnerable to cybercrime as large corporations. Luckily, some basic precautions can help protect your systems against cyber-attacks.
You should also consider physical security concerns if you are using a laptop to run your home business.
If you need to connect a table’s laptop power supply to a wall outlet and someone walking through the room gets into the cord, it could pull your laptop from the table and break or damage it.
Walking surfaces in the home office
- Floor surfaces must be flat, dry, and free from frayed seams.
- Surfaces must be free from any risk of tripping, slipping, or bumping.
- Never leave electrical or telephone cords in the aisles.
- All stairs with four or more than four steps must be furnished with guardrails.
- Recall falls are one of the most common causes of accidents in the home. They don’t become just another statistic.
One of the most significant dangers in the home is fire.
- Keep your workspace clean and uncluttered, minimizing unfolded papers and combustible materials.
- Make sure you are equipped with a working smoke detector and an appropriate extinguisher for your workspace.
- Plan a fire escape route and keep emergency exits clear.
Do you have a coffee pot or heater in your home office? If this is the case, be sure to keep flammable materials such as papers away from your hot surfaces.
One of the main causes of fire is the overloading of electrical circuits, so be careful not to overload plugs with too many pins.
If additional plugs are required, have a qualified electrician install them properly.
- Circuit breakers or fuse panels must be labeled and accessible.
- Electrical plugs, cables, panels, and plugs must be in good condition and free of frayed or loose wires, bare conductors, or broken insulation.
- Older two-wire grounded homes that require outlet adapters will not provide adequate protection for personal computers; three-wire grounds are optimal.
- Ensure your electrical components have sufficient ventilation.
Air quality in your home office
Poor air quality in the home office often worsens several respiratory illnesses; causes eye, nose, and throat irritation.
Ban Smoking from your home office
It is stinky, bad for the smoker, and poor non-smoker to breathe secondhand smoke.
- Handle office chemicals properly and use them in open areas.
- Store chemicals, especially toxic ones, in a protected and secure storage area.
- Buy and install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Workstations should be positioned so that they are comfortable.
- Use a five-legged computer chair with good back and arm support.
- Place your keyboard directly in front of you at about elbow height.
- Take some breaks when you can stretch and move around freely.
If you have young children and look forward to them spending some time in your home office, it’s time to childproof your workspace.
Keep any sharp office supplies away and out of the reach of small children. Small, heavy items in a child’s hand can also cause injury. Ensure to cover unused plugs with plastic covers.
Get on your knees and make sure there are no cables that could trip over little feet.
Consider keeping your children out of the home office and locking the workspace door.
If you or another worker is injured in your home office, you must have a properly stocked first aid kit on hand.
Consider keeping separate equipment for exclusive use in your home office. And be sure to consult medical treatment when necessary.
Always recall, whether you work at corporate headquarters or a small home office, office safety and preventing work-related injuries and illnesses should be one of your top priorities.
Home Office Hazard Lists Often Ignored
When most people think of industrial safety, the images that come to mind are big machinery in factories, the everyday dangers of construction sites.
By comparison, office environments would seem like safe-havens, but that’s not the case. Tens of thousands of office workers suffer time-consuming work-related injuries or health problems each year.
While the potential for damage may not be as dramatic as on a factory floor or a primary construction site, it can be just as costly for employers.
Security-related strategies proven successful in industrial settings are equally applicable to preventing wasted time in the office.
This article will review the most prominent hazards and practical approaches to minimize injuries and illnesses.
Slipping and falling
If you don’t think slips, trips, and falls are significant problems in offices, consider the report of the National Safety Council that people are two and a half times more likely to suffer a disabling fall in an office environment than in any other.
One of the essential factors in these injuries is that workers use inappropriate ways to reach high stored objects.
Frequently, they climb into the office chairs that unfold below them. Employees who need to access items on high shelves or in tall cabinets should use ladders (and remember to not climb higher than indicated on the ladder).
Other types of furniture, Desks, and tables are unsafe standby for stairs.
Another main factor in trips and falls is wiring that runs through or near traffic areas. Any wiring that is not permanently installed must be protected so workers’ feet do not get tangled.
Finally, flooring options play a crucial role in slips and falls. The upturned edges of rugs or rugs invite tripping. Surfaces like tile and terrazzo can become slippery when wet.
In addition to what has been said, proper cleaning and mats on exterior doors will prevent workers and visitors from tracking down rain and snow that can contribute to slippery conditions.
Collision and obstacles
Another contributing factor to trips and falls is clutter that can be found next to desks, inside storage areas, and anywhere else that appears to be “out of the way.”
A worker who pays full attention to a task cannot look down and notice danger in time to avoid a fall. Desk drawers that are left open are set to hurt unsuspecting workers.
Even the workers themselves can pose a danger. Blind corners or cubicle walls can prevent workers from seeing each other when they go out into hallways or other common areas.
Misuse of equipment
We’ve already listed the dangers of using office chairs as ladders, but chairs can be dangerous in several other ways as well. Chairs with wheels are usually designed for small movements in a limited area.
Running across vast areas invites the possibility of collisions or bumping into obstacles. Leaning on a wheelchair can cause you to tip over.
Chairs and desks wear out like any other type of equipment, but companies are often reluctant to replace them when they do.
However, broken or missing wheels and other parts can make a chair or desk dangerously unstable.
Time-saving office tools can also cause injury if used carelessly or incorrectly. Paper cutter blades are incredibly sharp and can cause severe damage to an unsuspecting user.
Scissors or sharp pencils that are stored thoughtlessly can pierce a worker reaching into a drawer.
Stacking and lifting
Stacking file boxes and other supplies can be convenient, but it can also create a significant hazard in the office. If an employee collides with the pile, he may tip over and fall on someone.
Stacking materials also increases the probability that an employee will lift or retrieve materials incorrectly, leading to a sprain or stain-like injury.
For that reason, it is essential to store materials properly and ensure that they are not placed so high that they pose a hazard.
Again, if employees have to access something at an elevated location, they must use a ladder suitable for the task.
Office lighting may not seem like a hazard, but it can contribute significantly to several hazards and illnesses. An obvious problem is inadequate lighting that hides hazards.
But one of the less recognized problems related to office lighting has to do with the areas in which the tasks are performed.
Poor lighting in offices can contribute to vision problems, such as eyestrain and related short-term headaches, and vision problems if the problem is not corrected.
It can also increase worker stress, which can reduce productivity and increase susceptibility to disease.
Poorly designed office lighting also creates shadows and glare. Some vision experts recommend less reliance on bright ceiling lights and more task lighting at each workstation.
Computer screens are a significant source of vision-related problems. Placing monitors slightly below eye level and approximately two feet from workers’ faces can reduce eyestrain, eliminate glare sources, and use larger fonts on the screen.
Offices can be surprisingly noisy places. Although the noise levels workers encounter are generally not intense enough to cause hearing loss, they can be a critical stress factor and detract from morale.
Designing offices to separate workers from noisy equipment such as printers and ventilation equipment can help.
Additionally, increasing the distance between workstations or using noise-absorbing materials, such as cubicle walls, carpets, and acoustic tiles, can also reduce volume.
Offices contain more fire hazards than most managers realize. Furthermore, office fires can destroy valuable documents and equipment beyond the potential for injury and death, so fire prevention should be a high priority.
Many materials used in offices are highly combustible, and some emit toxic fumes when burned.
Managers should conduct periodic inspections to identify fire hazards and ways to minimize them.
That can include everything from checking all cables plugged into electrical outlets to make sure fire extinguishers are easily accessible.
Electrical defects are the leading cause of office fires, so pay particular attention to extension cords and wiring integrity and make sure electrical equipment (especially space heaters) is not dangerously near fuel elements.
Employee training is also essential. How many workers in your office have received training in the primary use of fire extinguishers?
While that type of training is a usual requirement for construction and manufacturing workers, companies rarely expect the same from their office staff.
As businesses and building managers have reduced energy costs, office buildings have become much “narrower,” with fewer opportunities for air to filter in and out.
At the same time, workers are exposed to a wide range of potentially toxic substances, ranging from chemicals degassed from floors and furniture to toner used in copiers.
It is essential to ensure adequate ventilation to provide workers with fresh air and correct humidity levels during their shifts and minimize the hazards posed by chemicals.
Just as construction sites post material safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals workers may encounter, offices must ensure workers are informed about such materials.
Every employer must prioritize safety in the workplace and ensure the protection of employees to promote the well-being of all the organization’s personnel and others.
Employees should be given proper guidance on safety measures and tips in the workplace, while safety monitoring systems should be established and monitored accordingly.