Workplace Safety & Remote Work:  How the Two Go Hand-in-Hand

 
 
 

COVID-19 has restructured workplaces for many, which raises the question, “Do my employees need to follow worksite safety from home?” The short 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 for your employees to assess the safety of their in-home workplace to ensure they are able to reach their full capability and productivity. It’s also important that as an employer, you provide your employees with the proper resources and information needed to ensure their at-home spaces are safe and optimal work environments.

 

Ultimately, the responsibility for maintaining an at-home office falls on the remote worker. Consider the following when helping your employees evaluate the safety of their in-home workspaces.

 

Follow and communicate 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 for employees to assess their 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 your employees reduce circumstances that can impact their 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

 

  1. Is your workspace away from noise and distractions?

  2. Is your workspace “devoted to your work needs?”

  3. Does your workspace accommodate your “workstation, equipment, and related material?”

  4. Are the floors of your workspace “clear and free from hazards?”

  5. Do you have file drawers? If so, have you ensured they “are not top-heavy and do not open into walkways?”

  6. Are any electrical cords secured and “away from heat sources?”

  7. Is your “temperature, ventilation, and lighting adequate?”

  8. Are all stairs with “four or more steps” in your workspace “equipped with handrails?”

  9. Are your carpets “well secured to the floor” with no “frayed or worn seams?”

 

Fire Safety Questions

 

  1. Do you have a “working smoke detector in your workspace area?”

  2. Do you have a “multi-use fire extinguisher” that “you know how to use” and “is readily available?”

  3. Is your workspace “free of trash, clutter, and flammable liquids?”

  4. Do you have a space heater? If so, is it located away from flammable items?

  5. Do you have an evacuation plan in the “event of a fire?”

 

Electrical Safety

 

  1. Do you have sufficient electrical outlets accessible?

  2. Is your computer equipment “connected to a surge protector?”

  3. Is your electrical system “adequate for office equipment?”

  4. Are all of your “electrical plugs, cords, outlets, and panels” in good condition? Is there any exposed or damaged wiring? 

  5. Is your work equipment “placed close to electrical outlets?”

  6. Do you turn your equipment “off when not in use?”

 

Computer Workstation Safety

 
  1. Are the wheels of your chair “secure and the rungs and legs of your chair sturdy?“ 

  2. Is your chair adjustable?  

  3. Is your back “adequately supported by a backrest?”  

  4. Are your feet “on the floor or adequately supported by a footrest?”  

  5. Do “you have enough legroom at your desk?”  

  6. Do you have “sufficient light for reading?”  

  7. Is your computer screen “free from noticeable glare?”  

  8. Is the top of your “screen at eye level?”  

  9. Do you have space to rest your arms while not typing or working?

 

OSHA offers a computer workstation eTool to help employees evaluate the safety and comfort of their computer workstations, as well as a purchasing guide to find equipment suitable for employee 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 for employees to ask themselves.

While the above questions apply to specific areas of your employees’ at-home workplace safety, below are some additional questions that can help improve their work-from-home experience and productivity.

 
  1. Do you take the time to pause and move around throughout the day?

  2. Do you have a consistent routine that you stick to? 

    1. e.g. Taking lunch at the same time every day.

  3. Do you log off at an adequate time each workday?

  4. Is your surface regularly cleaned and organized?

  5. 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 employees’ attention to some factors that may be overlooked and that they might want to consider implementing in remote workspaces.

 

The bottom line.

The pandemic has created dramatic challenges and changes for many organizations. HR leaders have been at the forefront in assisting their organizations throughout this time. As today’s work environment continues to evolve and shift, HR teams have an opportunity to continue driving meaningful change. Ultimately, organizations that recognize this opportunity and prioritize working in ways that benefit the needs of their employees while also meeting corporate objectives will have an advantage going into the post-pandemic era.

 

How SyncHR can help.

Contact a SyncHR solutions expert to learn more about how an HCM can help your HR team and the larger organization adapt to the new and evolving realities of life away from a centralized office.

 


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