How can I ensure that my home-based office is a safe place to work?
Ensuring that your home is a safe workplace doesn’t happen by chance or guesswork.
It requires a systematic approach to finding and fixing hazards and risks and any particular circumstances that apply to your home work base.
To get the highest level of protection in place you must start by identifying any potential health and safety issues and typically follow five steps:
- FINDING HAZARDS that could hurt the people who either live, work or visit your home.
- FAMILY FORUMS that bring together all of these people on a regular basis to make sure that they are as safety conscious as you are and undertake the safety drills that are an essential part of hazard awareness.
- FIGURING OUT how the people in and around your home life could get hurt and working life hazards (the level of risk).
- FIXING IDENTIFIED PROBLEMS by sorting out and installing the most effective risk controls that are reasonably practicable under your circumstances.
- FOLLOWING THROUGH ON YOUR RISK CONTROLS and checking that they are working to cope when things do not go according to plan.
A systematic approach is particularly helpful when there is limited knowledge about the hazards and how to control both indoor and outdoor risks associated with your home as a workplace.
For a comprehensive checklist, which is not a substitute for the five F home work safety plan, click here.
The Victorian Government has produced a home safety manual in June 2011 that you can download for free here.
Sometimes the problems are obvious and can be easily fixed (eg. installing machine guarding or keeping your home office or shed tidy).
In some cases, OHS laws relating to specific hazards require you to do certain things in identifying hazards and controlling risks. In other cases the solutions won’t be quite as obvious.
Information about the home may be collected at the referral/assessment stage or during a specific home safety assessment before you take on either clients or workers.
The home safety assessment plans for the safe delivery of services for clients and workers.
Where possible, the issues identified in the assessment should also be discussed with clients and family.
It is good practice to ask both to sign off on the findings of the assessment. This helps ensure the details of the services to be provided are well understood.