There are benefits aplenty allowing your employees to work from home, including lower absentee rates, increased job satisfaction and employee retention, more productive employees, a lower carbon footprint, and you can save on operating costs.

But as an employer, it’s critical to make sure your employees’ health and safety is top-of-mind, even if your workforce works from home. 

Although severe injuries to workers who occasionally or regularly work from home are rare, should one of your employees suffer an injury while working at home, you can still be held liable for the costs. That includes employees whose jobs entail sitting at a desk and working eight hours a day or more off a computer.

A woman working from home experiencing neck pain.

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Whether you own a home-based business or are working from home for an employer, here are six useful tips to reduce chronic pain and injuries:

1. Maintain proper posture

When working from home using a computer, it’s vital to be mindful of one’s posture, and create an ergonomic workspace to ensure comfort. If you’re comfortable, you’ll be more productive. Conversely, if you’re uncomfortable, it’s more likely you may suffer back and neck pain and feel more fatigue.

You should have a rolling office chair with back and arm support. Maintain proper posture by sitting up, so your back and shoulders are straight. The computer monitor should be about 50 centimetres (20 inches) from your face and centred, so your eyes are aimed at the top third of the screen. 

2. Prevent trip and fall hazards

Slips or trips and falls are one of the leading causes of work-related injuries. According to OHS Canada, more than 40,000 workers are hurt annually because of fall accidents, with poor lighting, slippery walking surfaces, and poor housekeeping among the contributing factors.

While the trip hazards you face at home may be somewhat different from what you might find in an office, warehouse, or store, your employees need to ensure their workspaces are clear of debris and clutter, like children’s toys, extension cords, and uneven surfaces.

Also, employees should wear shoes while working. Not only will that prevent them from slipping in their socks, but it helps maintain focus when you dress as though you’re heading out to work. Additionally, advise them to turn on adequate lighting, clean up any spills on the floor, look where they’re going and not at a mobile device when walking, and use a handrail when climbing or descending stairs.

3. Stay connected

Working from home doesn’t need to be an isolating experience. Encourage employees to stay connected with their colleagues and you by interacting with them regularly on a messaging app if your company uses one, like Slack, or book time for a phone call or video conferencing call. 

4. Avoid distractions

It may not be possible, but it’s best to have a quiet room to work in with a closed door to help stay focused on work and avoid being interrupted or distracted by family members or pets. If that’s impossible, try using headphones and listening to light music or white noise to help mask the sounds around you.

5. Take breaks and exercise

Whether or not your team works from home, getting up, stretching, and taking short breaks frequently are necessary. 

Sitting for long periods or a sedentary lifestyle can pose real risks to your long-term health, and it’s one of the primary culprits of remote work injuries. Even a short 20-minute walk after lunch can improve your metabolism, reinvigorate you, and help you maintain good health.

6. Have a first-aid kit

Be prepared for the unexpected, especially if you work from home alone, by keeping a well-stocked first aid kit that includes bandages, gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, sterile eye dressings, and safety pins. The Canadian Red Cross provides a complete list of what your first aid kit ought to have. 

It’s also wise to encourage employees to keep a portable class C fire extinguisher in their home offices or workspaces to extinguish an electrical fire if one ignites.

Staying Safe and Productive at Work or Home

Taking these steps can help reduce your employer’s liability risk. Employers’ liability insurance complements your province’s workers’ compensation insurance and safeguards your employer from financial losses if workers’ comp is insufficient, doesn’t apply for covering injuries an employee suffers, or if negligence was the cause of an injury.

Staying safe also means ensuring your company has business insurance to help pay the costs of damages or losses that could interrupt your small business and threaten its survival.

Get a free quote for your insurance needs by completing an online application with Zensurance. Let our insurance experts find the policy you need, tailor it to address your risks adequately, and provide peace of mind so you can continue to thrive.

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About the Author: Jon Hogg

Jon Hogg is the Senior Team Lead, Renewals, at Zensurance.