This article will briefly discuss:
- the importance of using working from home checklists;
- answers to work-from-home frequently asked questions (FAQs);
- common health and safety risks when working from home and how to mitigate them;
- mobile app to help encourage safe and efficient work from home practices; and
- free working from home checklists you can download, customize, and use.
The search term “working from home” hit a record high on March 17, 2020—when employees around the world were either encouraged, or forced to work from home to help contain the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. Utilizing working from home checklists is crucial for employers to fulfill their responsibilities despite the situation and for employees to do their part in keeping themselves and their homes safe.
Is there an OSHA regulation for working from home?
No. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration currently does not enforce federal regulations for employers to follow when their employees work from home, but an OSHA Compliance Directive exists for home-based worksites, or areas of an employee’s personal residence where the employee performs work for the employer.
Does OSHA conduct inspections of all home-based worksites?
No. OSHA will only conduct inspections of other home-based worksites such as home manufacturing operations when they receive a complaint or referral that indicates a violation of a safety or health standard. The scope of the inspection in an employee’s home will be limited to the employee’s work activities such as the assembly of electronics or handling adhesives without protective gloves.
What are employers responsible for when their employees work from home?
Even when U.S. employers are not expected to inspect the home offices of their employees, they are responsible for hazards caused by materials, equipment, or work processes they provide or require their employees to use in home-based worksites.
Meanwhile, the Health and Safety Executive, or HSE, states that U.K. employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers, especially for lone working without supervision, using display screen equipment, or DSE, and work-related stress.
OSHA specifies that injuries or illnesses incurred while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation at home are work-related cases and recordable on the OSHA 300 log if it meets recording criteria such as a significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed healthcare professional, even if it does not result in death, or loss of consciousness among others. Here are common safety and health risks when working from home, so once they are identified, action can be taken to minimize them:
Work from Home Safety Risks and Controls
- Workstation and Work Equipment – Typical work-from-home equipment such as printers and shredding machines should be used correctly and the display screens of desktop computers or laptops, keyboards, and mouses should be in good condition to avoid unnecessary work-related accidents.
Poor lighting and lack of temperature control can also affect the quality of work and overall productivity, so make sure that employees’ home workspace is adequately lit and ventilated.
- Fire and Electrical Safety – The most common fire hazards at home offices include electrical equipment, faulty wiring, and flammable materials. Regularly disposing of waste, including papers, and switching off equipment when not in use can help prevent the risk of fires.
Additional security measures such as working in a lockable room can be implemented to reduce safety risks to other people at home, especially young children. Emergency procedures should also be in place, like identifying an assembly point outside the home, in case of any unexpected incident while working from home.
- Slip, Trip, and Fall Hazards – Carpets or throw rugs, clutter, and uneven flooring or stair steps are common causes of slips, trips, and falls when working from home. Secure floor coverings, keep essential items within easy reach, and clear walkways and corridors by upholding standards of good housekeeping even at home offices.
Work From Home Health Risks and Controls
- Manual Handling and Ergonomics – Repetitive movements and sustained awkward posture and body positioning can result in fatigue and lead to back, neck, and shoulder injuries. When a load has to be manually handled, it should be held or manipulated as close to the body as possible.
Home office desks and chairs should be ergonomically designed to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal problems and potentially restrict employees’ ability to undertake a wide range of work activities.
- Work-related Stress – Since work-from-home employees are likely to work longer hours because they have no set schedule, sticking to a daily routine that includes short breaks and clearly defined lunch and end-of-shift times can help reduce work-related stress.
Process documentation, especially when changes are being made at a rapid rate, and overcommunication can also help clarify work expectations, avoid misunderstandings, and lessen frustrations.
- Mental Health – Feelings of isolation can negatively impact the performance of employees who are working from home. Research has shown that social isolation is associated not only with depression and sleeping problems, but also with increased risk for early mortality.
Practicing appropriate self-care, connecting with colleagues via virtual meetings, and talking about non-work related matters using other online communication platforms are essential when working from home.
Staying safe and efficient while working from home can be challenging for employees. Empower frontline workers with an inspection and corrective action tool that can be learned in minutes so you can easily manage your team from wherever you are. With iAuditor by SafetyCulture, you can take advantage of the following benefits when you sign up for free today:
- Easily convert paper forms into digital checklists with smartscan or customize pre-built, industry templates with drag-and-drop editor
- Use working from home checklists anytime, anywhere, and on any mobile device—even when offline
- Take or attach photos of the home office environment or safety and health risks and annotate images for improved visual reference
- Assign actions with a priority level and due date to rectify issues immediately
- Auto-generate and secure working from home safety reports in the cloud and share them to key stakeholders with a tap of a finger
Featured Working From Home Checklists
Working From Home Health and Safety Checklist
A working from home health and safety checklist is a digital tool used to make sure that work-from-home employees have a safe home office that promotes their general well-being. This checklist is built according to the State Government of Victoria, Australia, and includes evaluation items for the designated work area, work surface, physical demands of tasks, work practices, emergency procedures, and more. Failed items should be corrected before employees can work from home.
Working From Home Checklist
This working from home checklist is used by the Charters Towers Regional Council in Queensland, Australia to assess a private residence and determine the suitability for employees to work from home. Use this checklist to inspect environmental conditions such as ergonomics, security, and first aid and work practices such as hazard and incident reporting, communication methods, and fitness for work or any other current medical conditions.
Home Healthcare Worker Safety Checklist
A home healthcare worker safety checklist is a tool used by in-home care service providers to conduct a self-assessment of their personal safety prior to commencing work. This checklist is built according to NIOSH Hazard Review: Occupational Hazards in Home Healthcare, and it covers areas such as safe patient handling, infection control, and more. Use this checklist to ensure that healthcare workers are safe to perform their duties in their patients’ homes.
Telecommuting Safety Checklist
A telecommuting safety checklist is used by teleworkers, or employees who work from an alternative worksite and use telecommunication equipment such as telephones or fax machines, to assess the overall safety of their work environment and maintain safe working conditions. This checklist is designed based on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management standards, and covers inspection checks for fire safety, electrical safety, computer workstation, and other safety measures.