With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended remote work for employees who can do so. It’s a precaution that nearly half of North American employers are currently taking.
Working from home might help protect workers from the threat of the virus, but it can also expose them to new workplace safety risks. The addition of more remote workers could put employers at an increased risk for a work comp claim. Here are a few tips to help your employees avoid work-related injuries while working from home.
1. Set up an ergonomic work station
Although more than 40% of companies offer remote work, the current COVID-19 situation has many employees working remotely for the first time. That means many of these employees don’t have a dedicated work station at all in their home – let alone one that has been designed with their musculoskeletal health in mind.
Provide your employees with the resources they need to set up their ergonomically correct home work station. Our top tips for computer users:
- Use a rolling chair equipped with back support and ample padding.
- Position monitors 20-30 inches from your face, centered straight ahead. Your eye level should fall at the top third of the screen.
- Sit with your back and shoulders straight, with a few inches separating the backs of your knees from the edge of the chair.
- Follow the 20/20/20 Rule: Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away or more for at least 20 seconds.
Download our Computer User Ergonomics Tool Box Talk for a desk evaluation checklist.
2. Get up, stretch and stay active
Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day isn’t healthy at the office, and it’s not healthy at home. In fact, being sedentary might pose a higher risk to employees working at home because they’re not getting up to attend meetings or talk to their coworkers face to face.
Remind your employees about the importance of stretching their legs and staying active even as they’re confined to their own homes. Performing simple stretches throughout your workday can help you stay relaxed and prevent overexertion injuries.
Employees should take special care to stretch their neck, shoulders, back and feet. You can find a list of stretches and how to perform them in our Computer User Ergonomics Tool Box Talk.
3. Prevent slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls are some of the most common types of workplace injuries. When your employees are working from home, their environment doesn’t have the safety standards you have in place at the office. They’re at risk of tripping over household objects like toys, slipping on water spilled from the dog’s bowl, or even falling down the stairs. Share the below tips to prevent slips, trips and falls with your employees:
- Prevent slips by wearing proper footwear, even inside your home – avoid slippery socks. Clean up spills, as well as mud or water tracked in on shoes, immediately.
- To prevent trips, keep the walkways in your home clear of clutter. Keep your house well lit and make sure cords are safely secured. Avoid distractions, like your phone, while walking.
- Prevent falls down stairs by always turning on the lights and using a handrail when going up or down stairs. Avoid trying to carry too much – leave one hand free to catch yourself if you stumble.
4. Pay attention to your surroundings
Many on-the-job injuries result from complacency. If a task becomes routine, it can be easy to stop actively thinking about safety. No environment is more familiar than home – and employees might not be used to having safety top of mind at home like they are in the office. Throw in distractions such as pets, kids, or partners also working from home, and it’s no mystery why some experts expect work comp claims to increase with remote work.
Encourage your employees to stay aware of their surroundings while working from home. If possible, an employee’s work area should be in a room with a closed door to avoid distractions. Keep your safety program active while everyone’s out of the office. This might mean increasing communication of your company’s safety policies and sharing safety resources.
Put safety first at work – or at home
If your employees are working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s crucial to maintain safety as your top priority. You can build a safety culture even if your team’s not in the office. Communicate early and often that you care about their wellbeing and share resources that will help them improve their safety while working from home.
Not sure where to start? Check out this blog post, Foundations of a Safety Program and Why You Need One. For more employer information on the current pandemic, visit our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions or visit the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.