Computer work is the most common activity when working from home. It’s important for workers and employers to work together to identify risks and have things in place to reduce them when working from home.
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Your home office is still a workplace, so make sure you work with your employer to eliminate or reduce health and safety risks.
Like your usual office, it’s important to have your chair and computer set up to suit you.
Use a separate monitor rather than your laptop or tablet screen to reduce neck pain and visual fatigue. Position your screen to eye height or just below and move it to a comfortable viewing distance.
If you don’t have a separate monitor, raise your laptop to a height that is comfortable for your neck and spine, at eye height or just below is comfortable for most people, but this may vary if you wear glasses.
Use a laptop riser or stand. If you don’t have one, use reams of paper or a stack of books as a stable base.
A separate keyboard and mouse is ideal - You’ll need them if you raise your laptop.
It might be noisy at home. Headsets or ear buds are useful when you’re talking on the phone or during video meetings. They’re also handy if you need to write, type or get your steps up.
You can feel isolated when you’re working from home, so it’s important to keep in touch regularly with your workmates.
Keep your work routine as best you can, set boundaries, take breaks and get out of your chair regularly.
Signal the start of your work day by setting up your equipment and move, pack-away or cover it at the end of the day.
Working from home can be rewarding, with more time for family, your own health and hobbies.
For more info visit worksafe.qld.gov.au and look out for more videos in this series.
The health and safety checklist for working from home is a tool to help you and your employer get ready for working from home.
Here’s some of the things you should address:
Your work environment
- Keep your work area and access ways clean and clear of clutter, spills, leads, cords and loose mats.
- Make sure your flooring is in good condition.
- Make sure you’ve got enough lighting for the tasks you’ll be doing and that it’s easy to see and comfortable on your eyes.
- Check that you can control glare and reflections.
- Your work area should be well ventilated, and you should be able to control the temperature whatever season it is.
- Have emergency phone numbers easily at hand.
- Keep the way from your workspace to outdoors clean and clear in case of fire.
- Have a suitable first-aid kit handy.
- Have a fire extinguisher or blanket to extinguish any minor fires.
- Smoke detectors should be installed and maintained according to guidelines.
- Inspect all electrical equipment and make sure there’s no cuts, nicks, exposed conductors or visible damage to the equipment or its electrical cabling.
- Make sure you have safety switches installed or you can use a residual current device.
- You commit to doing a push button test of all safety switches when you start and every three months.
- You must not overload power points.
Your workstation set up
Your workstation setup can help reduce the chance of musculoskeletal injuries, neck and back pain and chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It should support you to have a good posture and to change your posture often.
You can find out more about:
- selecting and adjusting your chair
- setting up your workstation
- visual comfort for computer work
- staying active while working on your computer
- mobile computer work.
Staying in touch
You might feel isolated when you’re working from home so it’s important to communicate regularly with your employer and work mates. Talk with your employer about:
- how you’re going to stay in touch with your work team, clients and other work contacts
- and how you can stay up to date with news from your organisation and work team and other updates, training and opportunities.
Deciding workload and security
Be clear about what work you’ll do from home including:
- work schedule.
Think about how you and your employer will review the working from home arrangement. This might include:
- regular meetings
- reviewing diary and work outcomes
- managing work boundaries.
If you’re taking work-related material home, you need to consider how you’ll keep it secure—physically and online. You’ll also need to consider how you can get information technology support when you need it.
Managing risks and responsibilities
It's important to remember that your home office is still a place of work:
- employers have the primary duty of care and must do what is reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of their workers
- workers also have an obligation to take care of their own health and safety and to follow the health and safety policies, procedures and instructions that their employers put in place.
As part of your working from home agreement, your employer should give you:
- information covering the risks and controls that come with computer-based work
- information on how to report discomfort, hazards, injuries or incidents.