COVID-19 has restructured worksites for many, which raises the question, “Do I need to follow worksite safety from home?” The quick answer is yes.
Although worksite regulations such as those that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have in place may not apply to an employee’s home or furnishings, it’s still crucial to assess the safety of your in-home workplace to ensure you are able to reach your full capability and productivity.
The responsibility for maintaining an at-home office falls on the remote worker. If you fall under this category, consider the following when evaluating the safety of your in-home workspace.
Follow government agency guidelines.
Government agencies, such as the U.S Office of Personnel Management, Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and The U.S Department of Labor’s (DOL) OSHA offer guidance and checklists to follow when assessing your at-home office or workspace.
Note: This is not an exhaustive list of government agencies offering worksite safety guidance. For more specific information on worksite safety in your city or state, please visit your state's official government site.
To help you reduce circumstances that can impact your ability to be productive and safe, we’ve summarized some questions below provided by the U.S Office of Personnel Management.
General Workspace Safety Questions
- Is your workspace away from noise and distractions?
- Is your workspace “devoted to your work needs?”
- Does your workspace accommodate your “workstation, equipment, and related material?”
- Are the floors of your workspace “clear and free from hazards?”
- Do you have file drawers? If so, have you ensured they “are not top-heavy and do not open into walkways?”
- Are any electrical cords secured and “away from heat sources?”
- Are your “temperature, ventilation, and lighting adequate?”
- Are all stairs with “four or more steps” in your workspace “equipped with handrails?”
- Are your carpets “well secured to the floor” with no “frayed or worn seams?”
Fire Safety Questions
- Do you have a “working smoke detector in your workspace area?”
- Do you have a “multi-use fire extinguisher” that “you know how to use” and “is readily available?”
- Is your workspace “free of trash, clutter, and flammable liquids?”
- Do you have a space heater? If so, is it located away from flammable items?
- Do you have an evacuation plan in the “event of a fire?”
- Do you have sufficient electrical outlets accessible?
- Is your computer equipment “connected to a surge protector?”
- Is your electrical system “adequate for office equipment?”
- Are all of your “electrical plugs, cords, outlets, and panels” in good condition? Is there any exposed or damaged wiring?
- Is your work equipment “placed close to electrical outlets?”
- Do you turn your equipment “off when not in use?”
Computer Workstation Safety
- Are the wheels of your chair “secure and the rungs and legs of your chair sturdy?“
- Is your chair adjustable?
- Is your back “adequately supported by a backrest?”
- Are your feet “on the floor or adequately supported by a footrest?”
- Do “you have enough legroom at your desk?”
- Do you have “sufficient light for reading?”
- Is your computer screen “free from noticeable glare?”
- Is the top of your “screen at eye level?”
- Do you have space to rest your arms while not typing or working?
OSHA offers a computer workstation eTool to help you evaluate the safety and comfort of your computer workstation, as well as a purchasing guide to find equipment suitable for your needs. Click here to view this tool.
Click here for the full checklist provided by the U.S Office of Personnel Management.
Click here for an additional checklist provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Additional questions to consider asking yourself.
While the above questions apply to specific areas of your at-home workplace safety, below are some additional questions to ask yourself that can improve your work from home experience and productivity.
- Do you take the time to pause and move around throughout the day?
- Do you have a consistent routine that you stick to?
- Ex. Taking lunch at the same time every day.
- Do you log off at an adequate time each workday?
- Is your surface regularly cleaned and organized?
- Is your workplace away from relaxing zones, such as bedrooms, living rooms, etc?
There’s certainly a lot to consider when working from home, and workplace safety is a significant item on the list of considerations. The above questions’ intentions are to draw your attention to some factors you may have overlooked and might want to consider implementing in your own home.
We would love to hear how you keep your at-home workspace safe and productive. Comment below!
Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all-inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding the specific application of the information to your own plan.