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Stay Safe At Home

Hello everybody! It's a week into lockdown and to help every one of you lovely people stay safe at home, we conducted an interview with a Health & Safety bod about how to stay as safe as possible while you're working from home. Catherine Fairlamb is a qualified Heath and Safety professional with a wealth of experience in the field from advising her company for 5 years. She was kind enough to sit down with us and answer our questions and go over some basic principles.

How am I most likely to receive an injury in the home?

There’s a whole list of common home working hazards that are:

  • Manual handling and upper limb disorders

  • Lone working

  • Driving for work

  • Use of work equipment

  • Hazardous substances and materials

  • DSE (display screen equipment)

  • Slips trips and falls

  • Stress

  • Electrical equipment

However, the most common accidents at home are slips and trips, resulting in falls. You can take simple steps like ensuring trailing wires aren’t a trip hazard which can reduce the likelihood of an accident. Electrical risks can be reduced by ensuring plugs aren’t overloaded and you should be visually checking your cables as well.

Tell me some principles for assessing my personal safety?

Well, homes aren’t really designed to be places of work. Things to consider would include:

  • Is IT equipment suitable? This would include internet access and the ability to remote access systems – especially if contracting into clients’ systems.

  • Working hours, communication, isolation and support. It’s easy to overburden yourself without realising you’re doing it.

  • Where will you set up your workstation in order to not interfere with family life

  • Are you able to access the equipment you need- perhaps if you have a disability- things like to speech to text software or adaptive readers can be prohibitively expensive

  • Is your work a risk to others in the home such as children?

  • How suitable is the home to meet work visitors?

  • Fire risks and the provision of extinguishers. For example, if you are an IT contractor working from home and have private servers or data banks- how do you manage the increased risks from electrical fires these create? Home bakers with ovens would have similar considerations.

  • Storage of tools and materials

  • Home and document security

If I get hurt, who should I call?

Who you call would depend on the nature of the accident and injury. It is always a good idea to have a stocked first aid kit in the house (make sure that this is topped up when items are used up). It doesn’t need to be a big one, a good start is plasters, cleaning fluid or cleaning wipes. If you are prone to allergies then antihistamine cream and tables might be an idea. Just use common sense. If you have a more serious accident then you can adapt with what you have in the household rather than buying specific bandages. Glass tea towels are brilliant, as they don’t leave fluff in the wound, but are absorbent. Frozen peas or icecubes act as a good ice pack. The best thing for a burn is still cling film, don’t put any creams on it.

I would recommend installing two free apps on your phone. These are the STJ app, and the NHS app. These will guide you through the injury and where to get help.

When should I not call an ambulance?

Ambulances should only be called when there is a risk to life. If you are experiencing chest pains, a head injury, severe allergy, experiencing severe blood loss or having problems breathing then I would call 999. Anything else call 111 and they will be able to advise on the next steps.

Should I set up a system for people to check in on me?

It is always a good idea to have a system for checking in on people, and having people checking in on you. This doesn’t have to be anything formal- but one thing I have seen is a group of people who regularly chat on a group messenger service, such as WhatsApp. It provides a level of company, but also, if you don’t hear from Bob who normally bounces in to say Hello at 9am – then you might consider giving him a poke.

I live alone, what are the risks?

The biggest risks are those of self isolation. Isolation is a major contributing factor in depression, but also now other mental health issues and illnesses including dementia. There are also risks that you can merge your work time and personal time, as well as the different spaces, which can increase your stress and have a negative impact on your mental health. Take regular breaks and ensure you allocate time to go outdoors- even just a walk to the local library to read your latest work magazine. The charity Mind discusses the 5 ways to wellbeing. These are :


Talk to someone instead of sending an email

Spend time fostering your social relationships

Be Active

a. Take the stairs not the lift

b. Go for a lunchtime walk

c. Do some easy exercise before turning on your computer

3. Take Notice

a. Have a plant for your work place

b. Have a clear the clutter day

c. Visit a new place for lunch

4. Learn

a. Continued learning through life enhances self esteem

b. Read a book or the news

c. Do a crossword

d. Sign up for a class

e. Look for a webinar or watch a video in something which you are interested or want to develop your knowledge.

5. Give

a. Participate in actions promoting happiness- research has shown that committing an act of kindness once a week over a 6 week period is associated with an increase in wellbeing,

The images of Penny from Big Bang Theory when she got into online gaming- you don’t want that to be you. Also make sure you have a good network of friends and an active social life – so if something does happen you are discovered before being eaten by your cat

I live with my family, what are the risks?

Again the biggest risk can be stress related- as long as your work items are secure and not likely to be able to injure a child. In which case you should ensure work tools are kept out of reach. Guilt can be a major problem in this scenario, as you can feel torn between work and family life. Normally by going out to work we ensure there is a divide, which enables us to create a balance and separate the two parts of our life. This work life balance is important to your mental health, but also can impact on the family and create division- causing more stress.

I am nervous that I might need deliveries during this time - how do I stay safe?

This would depend on the meaning- if you are worried in general about receiving deliveries into the house, you could arrange for them to be delivered to a facility such as the Amazon postbox things, or a collection point, such as your local Hermes drop off. If you are worried about spreading disease, then ask the delivery driver to leave the items at your door and you can collect. If they need a signature ensure you have anti bac gel and sterilise your hands immediately, but in the current climate delivery drivers are going to be more understanding of the signature issue and should be happy to leave the delivery at your door. If you have a large plastic container, ask for deliveries to be put in this to ensure they remain dry. If you are frequently out and having deliveries left, consider a parcel box if possible

How to stay healthy while confined at home - any tips?

Remember the basics. Eat well, sleep well and exercise.

Physical and mental health are intertwined. Exercise is more crucial than ever as you are going to be more sedentary than normal. Go for a walk- well away from others and get some fresh air and exercise.

  • Structure the day – build a structure including a set time for turning off your computer and ‘finish working’ at the normal time. Build in lunch breaks, tea breaks, even small rest bites. Having a small amount of down time is actually better for productivity than a full 8 hour slog.

  • Mix up your communication forms- don’t rely on an email, make a phone call, do a vdeo chat or group call. Even try leaving your group chat open so people can work and talk at the same time.

  • Schedule in socials- The microinteractions you normally have in the office or work place are important. Therefore schedule them in. Arrange time for a morning catch up with others on Nimbld and maybe an afternoon virtual cup of tea with people. This could also be done on Skype or GoogleHangouts

  • Ask How are You- Listen and share. Give people an opportunity to share if they are struggling and talk it through.

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