Home and Consumer
Tuesday July 22, 2008
Home Office Safety
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Home Office Safety
While working from a home office presents several advantages, it also entails many concerns that are not faced by people working in a traditional workplace setting. One of the major issues is ensuring safety for you, your employees and clients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, workplaces with less than 10 employees experience a disproportionate number of work-related deaths. And home-based businesses top that list. We've put together a checklist of the most common home office hazards. Use the following guide on home office safety to learn how to protect yourself, your people and your business:
- Walk areas: Falls are one of the most common causes of home accidents. So take steps to ensure that it doesn't happen. Keep floor surfaces level and dry; carpets need to be well secured to the floor to avoid tripping. Do not have electrical or telephone cords in walkways. Stairs with four or more steps should be equipped with handrails.
- Fire hazards: Fire is one of the greatest potential dangers in a home office. Keep combustible materials to a minimum and dispose of trash promptly. Install a working smoke detector and fire extinguisher at your workspace. Plan a fire escape route and keep all fire exits free and clear of any obstacles. Have regularly scheduled fire drills.
- Electrical outlets: Have a qualified electrician check your electrical circuits and install additional outlets. All circuit breakers or fuse panels should be labeled and accessible. Make sure your electrical components have sufficient ventilation. Home office safety is greatly enhanced when electrical plugs, cords, panels and receptacles are maintained in good condition. Computer equipment should be connected to a surge protector. Phone lines, electrical cords and extension wires should be secured under a desk or alongside a baseboard.
- Air quality: Poor air quality in the home office can cause or exacerbate a number of respiratory ailments. To avoid this, work in a well-ventilated area. Use fans to increase air circulation. Ban smoking within the office. Properly handle office chemicals and store them in a safe and secure storage area. Install a carbon monoxide detector.
- Computer set up: Workstations should be arranged in such a way that they are comfortable and do not cause unnecessary strain on the back, arms or neck. Computers should be placed either on a desk of standard height or in a workstation specifically designed for their use. A computer chair with good back and arm support and position should be used and the keyboard should be placed directly in front you at approximately elbow height.
- Child safety: If you have young children and expect them to spend any time in your home office, it is imperative that you "childproof" your working space. Keep all sharp office implements away and out of reach of small children. Cover unused sockets with plastic covers. Use a surge protector with an on-off switch that can easily turn off the source of power. Consider keeping your children out of the work areas in the larger interest of home office safety.
- Other common practices: Do not store any item on top of tall cabinets or other furniture. Limit storage to designated areas. Do not locate file cabinets near entrances or heavily-walked through areas where open drawers can become a hazard. Do not open more than one file drawer at a time as this can cause the cabinet to tip over. Unless in use, store common office equipment like scissors, letter openers and staplers safely in a drawer or other secure location. Chairs and office furnishings should be structurally sound so that their usage does not cause injury.
You should have an adequately stocked first aid kit and be ready to seek medical treatment, if necessary. Home office safety and the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses should be one of the top priorities on your list when running a business from your house.
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