For many organisations, remote working is here to stay. According to newspaper reports, more than 60 per cent of Australia’s office staff are now operating from home during the COVID-19 pandemic – and most in less-than-ideal conditions. We spoke to Mike Verheyen, Winc’s Head of Health, Safety and Environment about how you can minimise the risk of injury to your employees in their home office.
Assessing risks in home offices
“Employers have a responsibility to make sure employees are set up at home, just as they are in the workplace. In these situations, conducting a risk assessment is the first step. A risk assessment should cover all aspects of the designated work set-up – checking for things like adequate lighting, fresh air and access to comfortable temperatures,” Mike says.
He also emphasises the importance of mitigating safety risks in the home office by being aware of all surroundings. “The working area should be clear of clutter and trip hazards, like chords and household items,” he advises. Research suggests that trip hazards currently make up 23 per cent of serious work compensation claims, and due to various make-shift home office setups – this figure is on the rise.1
Support employees with ergonomic furniture
“People currently rely on what they have at home. Some just make do with the kitchen bench or sit on their bed or couch and type away. These places don’t provide adequate support for your posture and can cause back and shoulder issues later down the track,” says Mike.
The cost of workplace injuries can quickly add up. According to The Ergonomic Physio, “the average period off work for workers compensation claim is currently sitting at 4.8 weeks, and with an average weekly wage of $1,313, the total average cost per incident is $6,302.”2
Mike says simple solutions can prevent stiffness, soreness and other injuries. “Your laptop should be set up so that your eyes are at a good level with the screen, around a 60-degree angle. Better still use a monitor and keyboard to avoid straining the neck. Your feet should be flat on the floor, back straight, shoulders rolled back and chest up, so you aren’t slouching.”
“Look at what other additional equipment your employees might need in assisting them to sit ergonomically and comfortably. This is important because even if they are working remotely, they are still effectively in the workplace,” Mike advises.
Seek specialist information
Mike encourages people to seek more information on working from home safety. “Our specialists can help your people set up a workstation correctly. The solution is often to source a product fit for purpose, rather than trying to make do. A monitor riser to prop up a monitor to the correct eye level is just one example.”
We’re here to support you support your new workplace.
To find out how to minimise the risk of injury in the home office, speak to one of our home office experts.
To view our full range of ergonomic furniture and home office essentials, view our Home Office range online.
Register your account for Winc Home Delivery to ensure your people have what they need to work safely and effectively, delivered to their door.
1Williams, S. 2020, Domain. “Working at home injury claims set to skyrocket during COVID” <https://www.domain.com.au/news/working-at-home-injury-claims-set-to-skyrocket-during-coronavirus-951181/>
2The Ergonomic Physio, 2020, “Ergonomic Assessments save organisations money” <https://www.theergonomicphysio.com.au/ergonomic-assessments-save-organisations-money.html>