Have you seen those signs?
‘Wet Floor’ sign.
‘Caution: Mind The Step’ sign
‘Warning: High Voltage sign.
‘Fire Exit’ sign.
Those red and yellow (amber) signs tell you to take care and protect yourself.
“Where did you see them?”
On the road? In the office? Construction sites?
But you never saw them in your house, right?
Definitely not in your home office.
But does that mean the dangers are gone?
Does that mean you don’t have ‘dangers’ or what is known as ‘hazards’ in your home?
Is your home free from home working accidents?
Of course, you do.
But it is now left for you to watch out. To beware. Accidents happen, of course. Do you know that the home is the most common location accidents happen? About 6,000 deaths occur every year from home accidents in the UK, according to RoSPA. Most accidents happen in the lounge and living areas including your home office. But with a little thought and action, you can be safe in your home office. Here are the top 5 home working accidents and how you can prevent them.
1. Falls, Trips and Slips Accidents
Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide. About 37.3 million falls are severe enough to need medical attention each year. In your home office or space, these home working accidents are common and easy to avoid;
a. Wet and Slippery Floor
What type of flooring do you have? Tiles, wooden or laminate flooring? A spill from your mug, your feet wet or oily, or even saliva dribbling from your baby could get you flying to the ground.
Asides from getting a ‘Wet Floor’ sign (joking). Clean up spills immediately. If your feet are wet e.g., from the bathroom, use moisture-absorbent mats at entrances.
b. Cables and Cords
Is your working desk full of cable clutter? Cables lying about from your computers and their peripherals could trip you. It’s easy to assume because it’s on the floor, it’s harmless and you’re safe. But all you need is a careless step or a kink on the cable and you‘ll find yourself flying.
There are many inexpensive cable management systems that will tidy up your office. Tuck the cables away and clutter-free your floor.
c. Open Cabinet Doors and Drawers
It’s so easy you forget to close a cabinet door or drawer. Or it’s been playing up and you don’t have the patience to fix it. All it takes is for you to walk or move close, forgetting it’s still open and tripping or even cutting yourself.
Get into the habit of shutting open doors and cabinets, however noisy or difficult. And if it is too noisy, you can always invest in noise-dampening pads.
d. Throw Rugs and Loose Carpeting
Who doesn’t love throw rugs? They keep your feet cosy in the winter but they are trip hazards.
Use throw rugs with non-slip backing or invest in anti-slip rug pad grippers. This one in particular uses vacuum suction technology to fix the rug in place. Or if impossible, use them as foot rugs placed safely under the desk.
e. Debris and Toys
Kids’ toys eh! Amazing how they creep into every room however much you try to store them away. They are left in the kitchen, stairs, hallway, and of course, your home office/space. Even your furry friends, leave their toys lying about and it becomes a tripping hazard.
Pick them up immediately. If you have older kids that can listen to instructions, remind them to pick up their toys. Make sure you can see or illuminate your hallway and do a quick sweep of tripping hazards.
f. Over-reaching while sitting on an unstable chair
Office chairs are notorious for causing home working accidents. You think it would hold when you reach to grab or get an item. But as you near the edge of the chair, the chair becomes unstable. You could either fall or the chair topples causing you injury.
This is an easy one to remember: Get up from the chair.
g. Using the chair in place of a ladder or step stool
This is a common home working accident waiting to happen. You think you could easily get on the chair and draw the curtains, get to a top cupboard, and even change the light bulb.
Use a ladder or invest in these foldable items;
- a folding step stool,
- fold-up 2-step ladder with handle, or
- folding 3-step ladder with non-slip steps.
2. Manual Handling Accidents
Lifting boxes, folders, and furniture can contribute to injuries like back pain, if not done properly. You should learn how to lift with the proper posture;
– Back straight.
– knees bent and facing forward.
– Item close to you.
– Feet pointing forward
3. Falling and Flying Object Accidents
I’m sure you’ve had an item fall off from its place. Like a book off the shelf. Or a ball off the cabinet. Or even your laptop on the coffee or kitchen table. Falling objects are common scenarios in the home and cause home working accidents.
Try to always secure objects and store heavier objects close to the ground. Also, avoid keeping items close to the edge of the platform so you don’t knock them over.
4. Poor Working Posture (Ergonomics) Accidents
Developing musculoskeletal injuries like neck, back, and wrist pain results from poor working postures.
Ergonomics is about how you interact with your tools, furniture, and environment. Making sure they fit you and not the other way around. Poor ergonomics, for example, include;
- Sitting on a low chair,
- using a table with sharp edges,
- using a computer mouse too small for your hand.
- Bending your neck to work from a small screen e.g. tablets
- Over-stretching to reach the pen holder that you use regularly
- Working in dim light
- Sitting on a hard seat
You are trying to fit into these items which could cause pain and injuries.
Buy and choose furniture and equipment that fits you. Items that will fit the environment you work in. For example, if you have a small office and you fit a large desk into it. You might be left with little room to manoeuvre as it takes up too much space. This could make you sit and work in an awkward posture leading to pain and injury.
5. Over-reaching Accidents
Stretching to reach the top shelf or reaching over the chair are ways to have home working accidents. Even over-stretching to use your computer because your armrests are in the way. Or you placed the keyboard too far from you, can cause shoulder and wrist pain or trip and fall.
Bring items closer to you. Either you move close to the item you intend to reach for e.g. climb a step stool to get to the top shelf. Or you move the item closer to you e.g. bring your computer mouse nearer the edge of your working desk.
6. Fire and Electrical Accidents
We use electricity and electrical appliances all the time that we forget how powerful electricity is. According to the UK Government’s Fire Safety in the Home Report, faulty electrics cause around 4,000 fires in homes across the country yearly. And about three fires a day are caused by heaters.
– Be careful not to overload your sockets.
– Make sure your smoke alarm is working, change its batteries as soon as it starts beeping.
– Fit at least one smoke alarm on every floor in your home.
– Keep electrics away from water. Remember they don’t mix. Take care while drinking your cuppa, for instance.
– Look out for loose wiring or signs of faulty appliances e.g. circuit-breaker tripping or flickering lights.
– Unplugging your computers at the end of work or when not in use.
– Keep that portable heater that you keep near you away from curtains and clothing and furniture.
Home working accidents are avoidable
It might seem insignificant to look out for these items and scenarios. Or you might not have noticed them yet. But if you keep alert, you would see the risk factors that increase your risk of home working accidents.