Health and safety when working at home
This section is about how to work safely at home, during this time where we need to be extra cautious. It doesn’t explore all of our health and safety policies.
If you're temporarily working from home complete the home working self-assessment form.
We know it might not be possible to create the perfect home working environment and may only be working from home out of necessity. We still recommend doing your best to meet as much of the criteria set out in the self-assessment as you can, to reduce the risk of accidents at home.
Display screen equipment
Read our display screen equipment policy and procedure.
Read our workstation assessment checklist if needed.
Use display screen equipment safely at home
Read our top tips for using display equipment at home.
To make sure you're comfortable you can:
- adjust your chair and visual display unit (VDU) to find the most comfortable position for your work. As a broad guide, your forearms should be horizontal when your hands are placed on the keyboard and your eyes the same height as the top of the VDU screen if you're a touch typist; if you look at your keys, the screen should be lower
- make sure you have enough work space for documents or other equipment you need
- use a document holder may help you avoid awkward neck and eye movements
- make sure you have enough space under your desk to move your legs freely. Move any obstacles such as boxes or equipment
- try to avoid excess pressure from the edge of your seat on the backs of your legs and knees; a footrest may be helpful
- try to have enough space in your work area to change position and vary movement
To help with your typing you can:
- use a separate keyboard when using a laptop away from a docking station, especially for long periods of time
- adjust your keyboard to get a good typing position; a space in front of the keyboard is sometimes helpful for resting hands and wrists
- try to keep your wrists straight when typing; keep a soft touch on the keys and don’t overstretch your fingers; good keyboard technique is important
Using a mouse
When using a mouse you can:
- position the mouse within easy reach so it can be used with the wrist straight; sit upright and close to the desk, so you don’t have to work with your mouse arm stretched; move the keyboard out of the way if it's not being used
- support your forearm on the desk; don’t grip the mouse too tightly
- rest your fingers lightly on the buttons and don’t press them hard
- use an external mouse when using a laptop to avoid excessive use of trackpoints (nipples) as input devices
Reading the screen
To help with reading the screen you can:
- adjust the brightness and contrast controls on the screen to suit lighting conditions in the room
- keep the screen free from glare and reflections
- make sure the screen surface is clean
- choose options in your software setup that give text large enough to read easily on your screen when you're sitting in a normal, comfortable working position; select colours that are easy on the eye (avoid red text on blue background, or vice versa)
- make sure individual characters on the screen are sharply focused and do not flicker or move; if they do, the VDU may need servicing or adjustment.
Posture and breaks
To maintain good posture you should:
- not sit in the same position for long periods: make sure you change your position as often as is practicable; some movement is desirable, but avoid repeated stretching to reach things you need (if this happens a lot, rearrange your workstation)
- take a break from the screen. If there are no natural breaks in your job, your employer should plan for you to have rest breaks; frequent short breaks are better than fewer long ones
Read our lone working policy.
As a lone worker, your line manager should be taking steps to make sure you are:
- provided with support and training
- kept in regular contact with them and the rest of the team
- safe from work-related violence
There is lone working training available on Dorset Learning Online. Ask your manager for more information.
Working alone can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation or stress so we encourage you to take active steps to look after your mental health. Find more information in our looking after your wellbeing section.
Infection control at home
By working at home, you are significantly reducing the risk of contracting or transmitting coronavirus. You’ll still need to take precautions to prevent the virus from entering and spreading around the household. This includes:
- leaving home only for the following reasons:
- shopping for necessities, as infrequently as possible
- exercising once a day, such as running or cycling, alone or with one household member
- for medical or care needs, for example to help a vulnerable person
- for essential work that cannot be carried out at home
- not accepting visitors into your home, unless they are providing essential care
- washing your hands thoroughly and regularly. Use soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
- avoiding touching your face
- covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- cleaning the house regularly. Germs do not have anywhere to live once dirt has been removed
- avoiding close contact with vulnerable or unwell people in your home. Read Public Health England’s guide on shielding for more information on how to protect vulnerable people in your household