Working from home? Follow these tips for safe space

MADISON – In 2020, telecommuting transformed from a convenience to necessity for a large percentage of the workforce. In accepting the ‘new norm’ of working from home, individuals need to realize the safety needs for the home office.

Workers at home should observe safe practices in several areas:

* Proper ergonomics for work station — Ergonomics is the study of the relationship between people and their working environment, especially the equipment they use. Try to reduce the physical stress and resulting injuries associated with working extended hours, like overuse problems, poor posture and more serious musculoskeletal disorders.

* Placement of computer monitor — Confirm adequate space for all equipment and materials. Take needed breaks, especially if telecommuting from a single laptop screen. Be mindful of posture and eyestrain.

The monitor should be positioned at eye level. Angle the screen to eliminate glare. Keep elbows at 90-degree angle and close to body with hands and wrist in-line with forearm in neutral position. Keep feet flat on floor and knees below hips with good support for the back.

* Fire safety – Confirm that smoke detectors are working properly, and routinely replace batteries. Plan for multiple exit routes from your home office if an emergency arises. Keep heaters away from flammable items. Buy a multi-use fire extinguisher for the home.

* Electrical safety – Allow easy access to outlets, and do not overload the outlets with too many devices. Use surge protectors. Do not ‘daisy chains’ extension cables and power strips. Power down equipment when not in use.

* Work area without obstructions — Have a safe, clear walking path to and from computer stations. Move cables out of the way of your feet or as a tripping hazard. Watch out for toys or pets that could find a way into the work area.

* Dedicate the space — Keep work and home life separate. Everyone cannot afford to have space for a separate home office, but take the needed steps to define different space for work and relaxation. Maintain a normal work schedule, and do not work too many hours and thus sacrifice personal time.

* Stay healthy and active – Take appropriate breaks from your work station. Perform some stretching moves, or walk around the house while on a phone call, if possible. Use the commute time that you had previously with more activity around your house or apartment. Drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods.

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