“Hey, I’m only handling paperwork in my office, not using dangerous plant and equipment”.
“I’m a sole operator, I don’t have any staff”.
“I work from my own home, it’s my place so I can do what I like”.
Any of this sound familiar?
Well, the answer is that you should still have a health & safety policy, and systems in place. The Health and Safety in the Workplace Act 2015 requires it “whether the person conducts a business or undertaking alone or with others”.
I’s not just about keeping staff safe, it is also important to keep clients safe when they visit, and keeping the most important person in your business safe – YOU.
A key requirement is to identify all work hazards and either eliminate, isolate or minimise them.
A lot of businesses, especially tradies, have health & safety policy & systems that cover hazards when out on the job, but nothing for their home office.
So lets look at an average home office, what types of hazards might there be in it, starting from when you walk in the door. Is the entrance way uncluttered, and no slippery surfaces, especially if they get wet, or loose mats etc.
If you have clients visiting you, under COVI 19 Level 2, you should have a COVID 19 QR code displayed so they can scan it, plus have a register so they can manually write in their visit if they can’t do the scan. Also have hand sanitiser available.
Are there power leads across the floor walkway area? Are there lots of power leads and multi boards in use. Make sure these are in a safe working condition and preferably have circuit breakers on them. If you do have others working in your office it is best to get all electrical items tested and tagged.
What is your work station like? If you are working in your home office for any length of time, don’t just use a kitchen chair and sit at the kitchen table. Use a proper fitting, adjustable office chair and appropriate desk.
Don’t work on a lap top all the time. Use a cordless keyboard and mouse, a mouse pad with a wrist support, and a larger screen, adjusted to the correct eye level for the user.
Ensure you have good lighting. If you sit at your desk for long periods, take regular breaks and do some stretching exercises.
Bending and lifting – use the correct lifting technique (bend your knees not your back). People have put their back out by bending incorrectly just to pick up a pen off the floor.
Kitchen/lunchroom – boiling water – take care.
Have a good look around your office for other hazards or get someone else to do it ( a clear set of eyes).
If you have staff you need to have them read , understand, and sign your Health & Safety Policy and Procedures. You also need to train them on Hazard ID and controls and have regular health & safety meetings (all documented).
Any Incidents (near misses etc. not causing injury) or Accidents causing injury (even a paper cut, as it could cause infection etc. later) should be recorded in a Register and then investigated with the hazard or cause then being eliminated, isolated, or minimised.
Sounds technical and involved but once good systems are in place it becomes a simple ongoing function.