This year, more of us than ever have been working from home. To begin with, this seemed like a great thing. We weren’t losing any time on long commutes, and we didn’t have to take part in big tea rounds. Perfect!
However, as we have all been working from home for longer (and, for many of us, this feels like the new normal for a long time to come), we’re beginning to see some downsides. For example, our home office set-ups aren’t as comfortable as our desks at work – and we are often struggling to “switch off” and walk away from our duties for the evening.
Unfortunately, this is causing a lot of brand-new health and safety concerns. What are some of the most common health and safety issues you might encounter, and how can you combat them? Read on to find out more, and how Armadillo Safety can help you with your new work from home lifestyle.
Improper Display Screen Equipment (DSE)
Our home offices are not necessarily as ideally set up as our real office would be. Many people have to work at their dining room table, in their bedrooms, or sitting on chairs that do not have appropriate lumbar support. They may not have much access to natural light or be able to position their computers in an optimal way.
This can result in physical strain – anything from an increase in eye problems to a bad back. Long term, this could also result in more serious problems, such as repetitive strain injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome or spinal issues.
It’s vitally important that your work from home area is assessed fully by you, using online DSE training. You may even need to have someone trained in occupational health (someone in your organisation, such as a facilities manager) assess this, too. You may need to order special equipment through the company, such as a chair, desk or mouse.
Unsafe Electrical Equipment
At work, all electrical equipment has met stringent portable appliance testing (PAT). PAT testing applies to any item that is portable and requires a plug. Due to everyday wear and tear, it is essential that these tests are undertaken, so you can be sure they are safe to use.
Because it is unlikely that electrical equipment in the home has undergone these levels of testing, you cannot be sure that your equipment or the equipment of your employees would meet these standards.
While this might not be a problem in the short term, as more and more employees move to long term home working, the equipment must be tested so that you can be sure it is safe to use in the home. An employer should be willing to have these tests carried out, especially if you have taken home equipment from the office.
Stress and Isolation
If you are not used to working from home, or even if you are, it can be difficult to know when to get up and walk away from your home office. Because your work is at home, doing “just one more thing” over and over again can result in less time to wind down. Try to create a dedicated workspace that you can literally close the door on. If you cannot do this, or you are still struggling to stop sending emails and writing reports long into the night, you can create a commute by going for a walk after work. This helps to split your day between work time and home time.
Another serious issue is isolation. Without the daily chats and bouncing ideas off each other, it’s easy to become demotivated. Try to set up team chats at least once a week that aren’t just all about work. An informal half hour of talking between colleagues keeps up team spirit and means that no one goes too long without making a personal connection. Even if you can’t meet up in person, it’s important to remember how valuable your colleague relationships are. It’s not just all about work!
How Can Armadillo Help?
Leading Health and Safety Consultants, Armadillo can help you to learn more about how to take care of yourself when working from home. Our Health and Safety Training can now be taken as an e-learning course, perfect for our new-normal world.
They can be completed at home, in your office, or even on the go, helping to train you in everything from Assessing Display Screen Equipment (DSE) to Working Safely. You can be sure you have the right equipment set up in the correct way and combat many of the common issues we have discovered often crop up in work from home environments.
Are you feeling ready to take a little break from your desk? Get up, stretch your legs, and get a breath of fresh air. Put your health and safety first, and you will be happier, healthier and more productive. And if you need a little help, don’t hesitate to reach out to Armadillo.