Workplace Safety at Home: Assessing Your Environment

Take a look at your home office – what might an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector see?  As more organizations move to increased levels of telework, it is important for leaders to revisit their policies and practices related to home office support, and for teleworking employees to take a look around their home offices to assess ways to maximize both productivity and workplace safety.

  • Ergonomics: Does the space support healthy physical activity? Does your workplace subsidize home office equipment like a comfortable table and chair, and computer equipment that mitigates the risk of repetitive stress injuries?
  • Noise and Light: is the workspace separated from excessive distracting noise? Is there sufficient task and ambient lighting?  Does your workplace subsidize lamps and telephone headsets if specifically used for a home office?
  • Slip-Trip-Fall Hazard Assessments: If the home office also co-located or near a child play area, creating trip hazards? Are cords safely stowed below rugs or under objects? We know someone who broke her toe when working from home barefoot – a stray computer cord wrapped around the toe, and the person flew across the room. It was not logged as a workplace injury, but a little formal observation might have prevented the event.   

In many organizations, people only occasionally work from home, making it less important to take a systematic look of home office workplace safety. Today, however, long-term telework is becoming increasingly the norm, leading to new areas of regular consideration for leaders:

  • Policies, procedures, assessment and reporting of home-based workplace safety
  • Reimbursement or expense policies related to home office furniture and equipment
  • Individual needs for reasonable accommodations in a work-at-home setting

Today’s home is also today’s new workplace. Helping your employees think through their home workspace configurations can both maximize productivity and encourage new forms of workplace safety.