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Safety Lessons for the Home Office or Telecommuting Worker

By: Grace Irby 

I don’t remember hearing much about people successfully working from home when I was younger, but now there are a variety of jobs that can be done from virtually anywhere, allowing work outside of the traditional office to become commonplace. With busy lifestyles, family and other concerns, people are becoming more interested in positions available for short or long-term work from home. When I worked on-site at Access Compliance’s Latham, NY, office, I remember the routine safety checks and making sure there weren’t safety hazards that could disrupt work or cause harm. Now that I work from home, I don’t necessarily have those mandatory, standard checks, so it is especially important I am aware of dangers I may face.

I have found the most significant danger is distracted worker danger. As a mom to a soon-to-be three, energetic and crazy girl, my workdays are not days at the office like they used to be. I have to make sure I manage my time, and pay attention to more than just what work tasks need to be done. My daughter may need me at any given time, the doorbell may ring, or my dogs may bark and startle me. I’ll pause my work, get up to go address the need at hand, and then I’m back.. where was I? Oh yes.. In the meantime, my office chair may have moved, something may have fallen, one of my three dogs may be in the way and try to cut me off. If distracted, I may not notice any of these things, causing me to trip or hurt myself. It is critically important to be aware of one’s surroundings and potential hazards in every work environment, but especially when where you work is almost too familiar.

I may not view my home as an office or place of work, but I have learned it is important to domy own safety checks and inspections of my area including:

  • Is my office chair and furniture ergonomically correct?
  • Are my walkways and floor areas clutter-free and safe?
  • Are there spills, tiny toys, or anything I may not see at first glance?
  • Do my smoke detectors work?
  • Do I have working carbon monoxide detectors?
  • Am I prepared for a fire?
  • Do I have a fire extinguisher?
  • Are electrical cords safely plugged in and tucked away?
  • Do I have first aid supplies?
  • What would be my plan of exit if there was an emergency?
  • Do I have a surge protector?
  • Do I have proper lighting and ventilation?
  • There are also thoughts of cyber security and security of my work files. Are my work files backed up and stored to ensure their safety in case of fire or damage?

No matter where you may find yourself working, safety is always critical to both you and your employer’s success and well-being. Stay hydrated, give yourself a minute to stretch and rest your eyes if you spend your time at a computer, and if you’re working at my office, watch out for those pesky Legos.

Grace Irby is the Media Coordinator for Access Compliance, LLC. and assists VPPPA Region II with their media needs.