Working From Home Safety Tips – Coronavirus
Working from home, or telecommuting, is becoming compulsory (furloughed) in the wake of social isolation due to the COVID-19 virus spread. I’ve done it for years and, despite the disadvantages, I couldn’t imagine commuting each day. But it is a workplace and proper safe practices must still apply, particularly as often you will be working alone. Some companies insist on their Safety Officer visiting the home to conduct an audit which may be going a bit far but if you have run out of other higher priorities………..
- Use the time you used to spend commuting to do some exercise – come out of this fitter and healthier that before you went in – your colleagues may not recognise you and I wonder how many will go the other way? Set fitness challenges with your co-workers and encourage them to meet their goals
- For many years I’ve wanted to treat the solar keratoses (rough, red, scaly, or crusty spots on the skin that are caused by too much exposure to sunlight) on my face, nose, ears, chest, forearms, and back of the hands.The best treatments is Efudix. Unfortunately it can leave your skin, red, blistered and pretty ugly for a few weeks so I’ve been putting it off. but now we are socially isolated, I figured there is no better time to do it. You will need a prescription from your Doctor. More information here: https://www.nps.org.au/medicine-finder/efudix-cream
This article is a MUST read for all those working at home at the moment and perhaps feeling like you are missing out on something: https://safetyrisk.net/on-confinement/
To help contain the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases spread through respiratory droplets, including the flu, officials have issued the following recommendations:
- Update anti-virus software on home computer – this won’t save you from Covid-19 unfortunately
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Don’t make close contact with sick individuals.
- If you are sick, stay home and don’t go to shops etc.
- Cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away.
- Clean and disinfect objects that are frequently touched.
- If someone in your family tested positive for COVID-19, keep that entire household at home.
- Recommendations to cancel or postpone mass gatherings of 10 or more people
5 Tips for Working from Home Amid COVID-19 from Psychology Today
Tips you want to implement to make sure you feel in control of this disruption:
Tip 1: Maintain a Routine
We are creatures of habit and when our routine is suddenly disrupted, we go through several emotions such as helplessness, despair, anger, and frustration. In order to get back control, you’ll have to mimic your previous routine as close as possible.
Tip 2: Don’t Use Extra Time to Work
One of the biggest mistakes people do when they work from home is to work more. Many do it because they feel guilty that they are working remotely and don’t want their boss or co-workers to think they are slacking off, or they don’t know what to do with the extra time and, as a result, use the time to “catch-up”
Tip 3: Use Video Chat
For many of us, in-person contact is important because we are able to read social cues when talking with someone. When we work from home, our in-person contact with co-workers disappears; as such, it becomes important to see the people you talk to.
Tip 4: Take Breaks
Being in the office lends itself to chit chat with co-workers. Someone comes around and asks if you want to go grab a coffee or asks you to go for a walk. That clearly will be hard to do if you’re now working remotely but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take breaks throughout the day. Taking breaks will be critical to your sanity but also make sure you rest your eyes from sitting in front of the computer.
Tip 5: Move Around
At this time, we don’t know how long this pandemic will last and chances are we will be home longer than we want. So take a step back and look at your home. Ask yourself, “if this space were a WeWork or Coffeeshop, where would I want to sit throughout the day?” Even if you live in a small space, moving your chair from one place to another will give the brain the perception that you are now in a new space. Obviously, this would be applicable to those working on a laptop.
What are the WHS requirements when there are alternative work arrangements, like working from home?
In Australia, the model WHS laws still apply if workers are required to work somewhere other than their usual workplace, for example, from home.
What an employer can do to minimise risks at a worker’s home will be different to what they can do at the usual workplace. However, if you can, you should:
- provide guidance on what is a safe home office environment, including what a good work station set up looks like and how to keep physically active
- require workers to familiarise themselves and comply with good ergonomic practices, for example by referring to a self-assessment checklist
- maintain daily communication with workers
- provide continued access to an employee assistance program, and
- appoint a contact person in the business that workers can talk to about any concerns.
You should also think about how your existing policies and procedures apply when working from home, including:
- notification of incidents, injuries hazards and changes in circumstances
- consultation and review of work health and safety processes, and
- attendance, timesheets, leave and other entitlements and arrangements.
What are the WHS risks of working from home?
Working from home may change, increase or create work health or safety risks. To understand these risks, you must consult with workers.
Possible new risks include:
- physical risks from poor work environment, such as workstation set up, heat, cold, lighting, electrical safety, home hygiene and home renovations, and
- psychosocial risks such as isolation, high or low job demands, reduced social support from managers and colleagues, fatigue, online harassment and family and domestic violence.
You will still need to do what you reasonably can to manage the risks to a worker who works from home.
Ruth’s thoughts on “Working safely from Home”
Do you commute to work? Do all of your employees also commute? Train, Plane, Bus, Car?
I bet some of your employees would like to work from home. This would have been an amazing option for me when my children were little – BUT my work was definitely out in the field blowing things up! The joys of being a shot‐firer! At least I can say the “earth moved for me every day” and really mean it!
With all the technology available nowadays there are more and more people being given the chance to work from home. Did you know that as an Employer you are responsible for their safety whilst they are in their own home carrying out their job? So what are you doing about your responsibilities to them?
Recently Telstra lost a case against them when one of their Employees slipped at home on her stairs. She was wearing her socks at the time. This court case has set precedence and every company that allows employees to work from home needs to have a good hard look at their employee’s surroundings.
It is imperative that before they begin working in their home an audit is carried out which needs to cover the following:
Hazard identification and assessment of their risks
Environment Inspection regarding space, lighting, ventilation, fire hazards etc.
Ergonomics – the functionality of the office set up and layout
Manual handling, filing of items, retrieval of boxes, equipment etc.
Work practices applicable to your business
Emergency and contingency planning which includes security
It is important to remember that when the OSH Harmonization finally arrives it clearly states that it is all about the “Management of risk ”. The whole package is about management of risk and making sure it is in the front line of the business. OSH has turned into a complex system of documents including policies, procedures, risk assessment tools etc. but there has been no reduction in injuries – Over 80,000 workers compensation claims last year! I wonder how many of those were from employees working from home.
At Sina Safety Solutions Pty Ltd we strongly suggest that you ensure an audit is conducted and also some basic training is given to your employees around safety in the home, ergonomics, stretching and basic manual handling techniques before your company joins the ranks along side Telstra.
WFH Due to Coronavirus? 6 Tips for Shifting Gears to Remote Work in a Hurry
By Jessica Larson, SolopreneurJournal.com
The coronavirus COVID-19 has caught the entire world off guard, so don’t feel overwhelmed if you’ve struggled to adjust to working from home. Businesses across the nation have been forced to make drastic changes to their operational policies, and virtually every worker has needed to find ways to contribute without leaving the house. If you need help making the shift to working at home, here are several strategies to help you turn your home into a home office.
Find the Best Spot
You know your home better than anyone else. You know what space, capabilities, and resources you do and don’t have. Spend time considering the best location for your work, as you’ll be committing eight (or more) hours per day to this spot. Every space will naturally have limitations: a kitchen table only works between meals, while a TV room invites too many distractions.
One problem that many home workers will face is clutter. Marie Kondo’s maxim of destroying that which does not bring you joy can help a lot: You may be better off clearing out a space taken up by big items with little practical or sentimental value. This may even be an opportunity to declutter on a bigger scale, to the point of renting a dumpster or using removal services to haul away the largest obstacles to success.
Ask anyone who has ever used a home office whether a good internet connection is worth the extra money, and you’ll hear a resounding affirmative. And in the context of our “new normal,” reliable Wi-Fi is not just a benefit or a convenience but a necessity, especially with a larger collaborative team that needs to produce a polished product on deadline.
Spending hours downloading a file or software platform isn’t the most constructive use of your time. There are ways to make your internet perform better without paying for an upgrade — but like most things in life, when it comes to internet speeds, you often get what you pay for. Better still, negotiate with your employer and see if they will cover the extra costs.
Manage the Kids
Plenty of people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic have found themselves with unexpected co-workers: their family. Sometimes this is just a minor inconvenience; older teenagers can take care of themselves for the most part, and you can always refer to your dog as “the new intern.” Others, though, may need to drastically rearrange their daily schedules.
With or without a partner, you’ll probably need to get creative to manage children, so you can stay productive. And you may face new challenges at home beyond maintaining your kids’ meal schedules and education: You’re also responsible for their health and safety, so consider taking advantage of online training in CPR and first aid when you can.
Maintain Professional Relationships
Plenty of work in an office doesn’t get done behind a computer. Offices are social settings, too, and interactions such as business lunches and water-cooler chats help advance the company’s goals, even if they’re as simple as fostering teamwork and a collaborative mindset. These relationships can suffer if there’s no longer daily face-to-face contact.
It’s helpful to keep these relationships going however you can. Organize Zoom meetings with mentors, co-workers, and cross-department colleagues whenever possible, even if it is only for a few minutes at a time. This will help you discuss various aspects of the business, brainstorm new strategies, and build the connections that lead to greater success.
Prepare for the Pandemic
Of course, the looming aspect of the pandemic that could affect your business — but which few people mention — is getting sick with the virus itself. Contracting COVID-19 will affect different people in different ways, and some might have the disease without even knowing it. Yet for many, this respiratory condition causes absence from work, for days or even weeks.
Businesses across the nation have a variety of policies on sick leave, ranging from flexible to comprehensive. Check the details of your sick-leave policy and prepare a contingency plan so your responsibilities are covered if you develop symptoms of the virus (or contract another illness like the flu).
Build Your Credit
It’s an unfortunate truth that not all Americans can expect to move their work home during the pandemic. There’s no way to get a factory into a living room, for example, and firefighters can’t fight many fires by staying on their own property. The harsh truth is that many people face involuntary exposure, unavoidable layoffs, or even unemployment as a result of this crisis.
For some, a healthy savings account will allow them to weather the storm. For others, necessary expenses may leave their bank balance with fewer zeroes than they’d like. For your own financial health, make certain your credit is strong enough that you can cover expenses in a time of need, not only for yourself but for your family.
Working from home can require adjustments, but there are ways to make it manageable — and productive. If you’re open to adapting, you’ll be able to weather this crisis and come out on the other side with a full head of steam.