Many workplaces involve some amount of risk, and that goes for home workspaces, too. While working from home may seem tame compared to other places of work, it’s not entirely free of health and safety hazards. Like in any other workplace, you should be aware of these risks so you can work as safely as possible.
According to a recent survey, 41.8% of American employees now work from home. A lot more people are working remotely now than in the past, and most are probably unfamiliar with the associated risks. Here are five common work-from-home hazards you should know.
1. Ergonomic Issues
Overexertion accounts for 31% of all workplace injuries, making it the most common hazard. You can face these in the home, too, mostly from repetitive motions like typing. If your home workspace isn’t comfortable, you could strain muscles and joints throughout your body over time.
Make sure your chair is stable and provides plenty of padding, especially around the back and arms. Position your computer so your keyboard is around elbow height and your screen is 20 to 30 inches from your face. You should also take frequent breaks where you stand up and stretch to prevent soreness.
2. Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips, and falls come right behind overexertion as the second most common type of workplace injury. A standard office might not have many of these hazards, but your home could. Wet floors, loose cables, and misplaced toys could all trip you as you walk to and from your work area.
Make sure no cables cross any walkways, especially under rugs or carpets. Clean up any spills as soon as they happen, so you don’t forget about them and slip on them later. Try to pick up any other clutter before and after your workday, too.
3. Biological Hazards
You may be surprised how many biological hazards, like microbes and other airborne contaminants, are in your home. Microbial contamination is a surprising problem in pharmaceutical products you may have in your medicine cabinet. Mold can grow in wet areas, and dust can gather easily and become an irritant.
Thankfully, as scary as these hazards sound, you can prevent them.
Make sure your workspace is well-ventilated to remove harmful particles from the air. Remember to change your air filters regularly, too. You should also regularly check and clean damp, dark spaces in your home to prevent mold and mildew growth.
4. Electrical Hazards
Setting up a home workspace involves a lot of electronics in one place. With so many wires, it can be easy to create electrical hazards accidentally. Cords could fray, electronics could generate too much heat, and outlets could overload.
Check all of your cables for damage and replace any frayed or loose wires. Make sure you don’t plug too many devices into one outlet, either, as this could overload it. Remember to give your electronics plenty of ventilation and keep kids and pets away from them.
5. Mental Health Concerns
Mental health sadly goes overlooked in many workplaces. When you work from home, you may face additional mental stress, too. Without frequent in-person communication, it can be easy to feel isolated and lonely. One study found that nearly half of all remote employees experience stress, anxiety, or depression.
Creating and sticking to a set schedule can help by making it easier to separate work and your personal life. Periodically moving around, especially outside, can alleviate stress and increase endorphins, helping you feel better. If you’re feeling lonely, you can stay connected to co-workers through emails or video meetings.
Work Safely Wherever You Are
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you work away from any hazards. When you know what to look out for, you can take steps to stay safe and healthy. Watch for these five hazards and follow these steps to work safely regardless of where you do your job.