Ergonomic and Safety Considerations While Working from Home
By: Laurie Devlin, Loss Control Supervisor, Illinois Brokerage & Loss Control, Inc
For many of us, working from home is always a part of what we do, but for others it is an entirely new situation. As more and more employees transition to a work from home environment, I wanted to take time to remind everyone about a few basic home office ergonomic and safety considerations.
First, let’s talk about where you’re going to work. Finding a quiet area with an appropriate work space might be challenging, so keep these things in mind when choosing yours:
Chair should be sturdy and provide good back support, especially lumbar support. Use a towel roll if needed to maintain good posture.
When sitting in front of your work surface, your elbows, knees and hips should be at approximately 90-degree angles and your shoulders should be relaxed.
Feet should be flat on the floor. Use a foot stool if necessary.
Once you’ve decided on where you’ll be doing your work, here are some items to consider while at your desk:
Your computer monitor should be directly in front of you, about an arm’s length way, with the screen at or just below eye level.
Keep your wrists as straight as possible when using keyboard and mouse.
All items on your desk should be within arm’s reach to avoid strains from over reaching. This includes your phone, notepads, files, calculator, etc.
Utilize a headset or speaker phone for longer conversations or for those when you also need to be using your hands. This will prevent you from cradling the phone between your neck and shoulder.
Be sure to have appropriate lighting ~ too much or too little light can put strain on your eyes causing blurred vision and headaches. Adjusting the brightness and contrast on your monitor and window blinds and shades can help with this as well.
And I realize it is called a ‘laptop’, but never place this device directly on your lap for work. The device gives off heat which can be harmful to our bodies and the placement is not ergonomically correct.
Additional Safety Considerations
As we continue throughout our work day, there are various other home office safety principles to remember:
Pay regular attention to your overall posture. Don’t slouch or stay in the same position for prolonged periods of time.
Keep moving! Take a few minutes every hour to stand, walk around or even perform some gentle stretches. You might even find another place in your home to work from a standing position for short timeframes to give your back a break.
Maintain a clean workspace. Items on the floor around you can present slip or trip hazards, this includes power cords, files, paper and supplies. Even throw rugs can be a slip or trip hazard.
Plug your power strip directly into the wall outlet, do not chain multiple cords together. Check all cords to ensure they are in good condition.
Keep file cabinet drawers shut to avoid tripping over them and be sure to secure the cabinet to the wall as recommended by the manufacturer.
Have a working fire extinguisher on hand and maintain all smoke detectors.
Maintain a positive work – life balance. Having a separate work space can reduce distractions and increase productivity, while discouraging employees from working after hours.
Utilize proper lifting technique if moving office furniture or supplies. And don’t attempt to move items that are too heavy ~ open the ream of paper and carry only a couple packages at a time versus trying to carry the entire box at once.
Following these simple guidelines will prove beneficial as everyone navigates thru their work from home environment. Poor workstation ergonomics and home office safety awareness can lead to musculoskeletal discomfort and even possible injury. Always take time to assess your workstation and maintain a safe work environment. If you need assistance with your work from home set up, please reach out to a member of the Loss Control Team to discuss.