The arrival of the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of people suddenly to join the work-from-home ranks. And it’s likely that many will continue to do so even after the danger passes. Setting up a safe home office is a top priority for home-based workers, whether they work for themselves or someone else.
At Lake Region Insurance Agency, we know that safety comes partly from your insurance coverage. So we help our customers find the policies they need to protect them at home and elsewhere. Get in touch today for a free insurance review to see how we can assist you.
Safety Considerations in a Home Office
Most people are aware of the health and safety guidelines present in traditional workplace environments. If you work in an office or other business setting, you probably took part in some sort of safety training at one time.
In your own home, however, it can be easy to take your eye off the ball. The familiar space can allow you to become more comfortable and relaxed, creating a perfect opportunity for an accident. Trips and falls that result in injury are far more common than people often think.
Additionally, your employer can have legal repercussions if you are injured, even if the accident takes place in your home. According to OSHA, your employer has a responsibility to ensure your safety by helping you comply with accepted standards. They clarify that this responsibility applies to a workplace “in a designated area in an employee’s home.”
Ensuring that you are working in a safe home office is not only a benefit for you. It can also be essential for your employer. And if you are self-employed, safety measures are still necessary.
How Can I Set Up a Safe Home Office?
When you prepare your office space, look at your area from the perspective of an employer rather than a homeowner. There are a few crucial areas to consider as you work to ensure a safe home office.
The Environment and Ergonomics
Your workspace needs to be appropriate for your role and the tasks you have to accomplish. If you need to handle any machinery, make sure you have enough room to do so safely. The space should have ample light, be well-ventilated, and provide enough room for you to move around safely.
If you spend hours working at a computer, then a safe home office should include an ergonomic chair and desk. If at all possible, invest in a desk that can raise and lower, as needed. Feet should be flat on the floor when you are sitting, and your arms should be at about a 90-degree angle when typing.
There should also be adequate lighting at your desk so that you can see the screen without needing to squint or strain. Take plenty of breaks from your desk to stretch and move your body. Ideally, you will give yourself a few moments away from the computer about every 30 minutes.
Slips, trips, and falls are surprisingly common causes of injuries suffered in the workplace. This fact holds true even in a home office situation. In fact, your home’s stairs may be one of the biggest hazards to your safety.
Make sure the floor around your workspace is completely clear and accessible without cords or cables that could cause a fall. Invest in enough storage for products and paperwork so that you do not have things in your way as you walk through your space.
A house fire is a significant concern for any homeowner. Fire safety must be a factor when making your plan for a home office. Be sure to include all of these safety tips in your workspace:
- Keep walkways in your office clear to ensure a quick evacuation.
- Have a working fire extinguisher in your office. Additional extinguishers should be in the garage and near the kitchen. Learn how to use one.
- Check that there is a working smoke detector in your office and test it regularly.
- Know and practice an evacuation plan. This step is critical if your office is not on the ground floor.
- Do not smoke or light candles in your home office.
Whether you own your own business or work from home for someone else, maintaining a safe home office also includes data security. You must follow best practices for data protection, confidentiality, and customer privacy. It is crucial to have a secure place to store any files and ensure this is only accessible by those with permission.
Your computer will also need protection to maintain the integrity of sensitive data or information. Multi-step authentication and anti-virus software are two vital pieces of home office data safety.
If you are working for yourself, cyber liability insurance is another critical component to consider. And when working as a remote employee, you still need to adhere to your employer’s requirements and training. Be sure to talk with them about the measures you need to take when working from a home office.
Overloaded electrical circuits can be a major fire risk and could cause an outage that damages your computer or files. Avoid the temptation to use multiple extension cords that could overload your system. If you need to install additional outlets, hire a licensed professional to do the work safely.
A surge protector is essential for protecting your computer equipment. Fuse breakers should have clear labels and be easily accessible. Ensure that you do not have any frayed wires in use and always address electrical concerns right away.
How Can We Help?
The Lake Region independent agents are the friendly experts for your Minnesota insurance needs. We are here to help you find everything you need to protect your home, autos, health, and business.
With three offices throughout Greater Minnesota, Lake Region Insurance Agency is able to help no matter where you are. Get in touch with the team today for a free insurance review, and make sure that you have sufficient coverage.