Working from home has become increasingly popular because as a WAHM, you can simultaneously work and care for your children. However, with little ones running around while you're trying to work, the design of your home office should include a number of important safety considerations.
Access and Exit Safety
First off, clear the aisles, pathways, and doorways that give access to the home office. Because home offices may often be situated in areas of the home that were originally designed for other uses, access to the home office may resemble an obstacle course. This can create an unintended hazard.
Give electrical safety a high priority. It's important to protect your office equipment, such as computers, from power surges and/or electrical outages. Is your current electrical system adequate to handle the increased load it will carry with your home office? Is all the equipment grounded?
Invest in and install as many uninterrupted power supplies or surge protectors as necessary to prevent the loss of data or worse, expensive damage to your equipment. If additional electrical outlets or capability is required, it is suggested that you bring in a licensed electrician.
Cords, Cables and Wires
Make certain that you organize the myriad of cords, cables and wires which accompany typical home office equipment (i.e. computers, fax machine, telephone, printers and so forth). Plan your office design to put as much of your telephone wire or cable out of sight as possible.
If you have long lengths of wire or cable running from room to room or down a hallway, then consider drilling some holes and or do what is necessary to get it all of this out of sight. If you can't place cables and/or wires out of the way, then you should make sure that you tape them down with sufficient duct tape, or staple them down with rubber-lined electrical staples.
Be certain that neither you, your family, clients or anyone else coming into your home office, is in danger of tripping over the cables and cords. Make sure all area rugs are securely tacked down as well.
Examine the cords of your office equipment and take up the slack
where possible. You can use wire ties to tie up the excess. When cords
are neatly wrapped and bundled, this will help prevent accidents. It
will also make your home office more pleasing to the eye.
Going as wireless as possible is also another way of potentially tackling this problem. Although many computers, printers, faxes and copiers now have wireless capabilities, you will still have power cords that must be secured.
Consider investing in ergonomic safety. Is all of your office furniture and equipment going to be ergonomically correct? Your chair, for example, should be sturdy and adjustable, allowing your knees to bend at 90 degrees with your feet flat on the floor.
Your computer keyboard should be in line with your wrist and forearm position. This will safely avoid potential for carpal tunnel syndrome. Your computer monitor should be positioned about two feet from your eyes and the screen should be slightly below eye level for maximum vision safety.
When you establish a work area, look at it from a child's point of view and take steps to make it safer. Set aside one area of your work space for the playpen. Make sure these areas are in your direct line of vision and away from equipment and office supplies. If you have an entire room to use as an office, install a good door lock and keep your home office locked when not in use.
Put home office equipment so it is out of children's reach. Child proof the potentially dangerous 90 degree sharp corners on your desk and other office equipment. Install plastic safety covers on all unused electrical outlets. And always unplug shredders and other office equipment when they are not in use.
Finally, keep scissors, letter openers, and all sharp office supplies away from the edges of the desk. Ideally, these should be kept in a drawer, out of children's sight and reach.
Establish an evacuation plan for exiting the home office as soon as it is complete. Then, keep emergency numbers posted by the telephone, particularly fire, police, and hospital. You should make certain that functioning smoke alarms are installed and that there is clear access to a fire extinguisher.
Check your cell phone reception in the area of the home in which you are establishing your home office. In the event of telephone land line failure, you might need it in an emergency.
You might want to consider purchasing a first-aid kit and having it readily available in the event of a medical emergency. Have important documents for your business easily accessible so that they may be readily accessed and easily taken off site (e.g. home owners insurance during a hurricane evacuation).
Remembering these safety precautions when designing your home office will help you be physically safe, and it will keep your mind free from worry.