Hidden dangers of home offices
June 1, 2000
Here’s what to be on the look-out for if you’re working at home, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers:
- Falls that could occur when reaching for high shelves, and tripping on cables and wires;
- Floor surfaces that could cause slips, trips, or falls;
- Heated surfaces such as coffee makers and portable heaters that could trigger a fire;
- Electrical circuits, especially in older homes, that might not be able to handle the added electrical load from fax machines, computers, scanners, and other office equipment.
ASSE offers these recommendations:
- A licensed/bonded electrician can inspect existing home electrical systems and provide upgrades if needed;
- A fire evacuation plan should be developed, such as installing a ladder as an escape route if the office is on the second floor;
- Use a hand-held cart when moving heavy boxes;
- Move desks closer to power outlets and phone jacks, or install new outlets, to eliminate tripping hazards posed by cords and cables;
- Be wary of where you place your wires;
- Watch out for cords, toys, fans, the ironing board, and pets who may chew on cords or office equipment;
- Be sure that your desk, chair, and other furniture and office equipment is configured to reduce ergonomic stress and strain;
- Ergonomics is particularly important if a laptop computer is used.