Fire Safety working from home

Posted Monday, 8th March 2021

Fire Safety working from home

Almost twelve months on from when Covid-19 restrictions were introduced in the UK and many of us are still mixing work and home life under the same roof. A third National lockdown and ‘stay at home’ order in January 2021 meant we must all stay and work from home if we are able to do so. But have you ever wondered how safe your home is in the event of a fire? As we are forced to spend even more time in our homes, it is essential to ensure that they are safe and can protect us in an emergency situation.

Working from home can be a new and exciting experience for your employees (although we are sure many people are fed up and raring to get back into the office), but it also brings with it, new responsibilities. There are a number of associated risks that are often overlooked or forgotten; risks that you wouldn’t usually consider when working normally because someone else is responsible.

Although the Government instructed us all to work from home, did you know that employers have a responsibility to maintain their duty of care to their employees and ensure that the same legislation for office workers applies when they are required to work from home? This includes ensuring they have suitable working conditions; equipment and all necessary health and safety measures are implemented.

As a minimum, the employer must ensure that a homeworking employee is provided with suitable furniture, a phone, IT equipment and internet connection and most importantly, a fire extinguisher.

But how can we as individuals protect ourselves and our families whilst working from home?

One of the biggest impacts that working from home will have on our homes is extra electrical appliances (computers, telephones, internet wires etc) as well as our electricity costs rising, the risk of a fire is also increased. It is important to ensure all wires are kept neat and tidy and well away from any potential hazards including open fires, radiators and hot pipes. This is to ensure the wires do not overheat and catch fire.

It is also absolutely vital that at the end of each day computes and appliances are turned off completely, not just on standby or screens turned off! Although this might save you time each morning, this is one of the biggest no no’s!! Leaving a computer on all night and day can almost double the risk of a fire! Do you really want to risk everything you have worked for, the roof over your family’s head, just to save a few extra minutes in the morning? After all, you do not have to rush out of the door to make it through the traffic to the office for that 9am start, make yourself a coffee and be patient.

Always ensure that you have sufficient plug sockets with the correct voltage. NEVER EVER overload sockets or extension leads. If you are overloading your power supply, this will increase the electricity coming through causing the socket to overheat and ultimately result in a fire. Wires should also never run under carpets; this can also cause them to overheat! At the end of each day, you should check your wires and appliances for any damage. Exposed wires can cause fires.

What about lunch time? As most of us are working from home, this might mean the luxury of having a hot meal at lunch time. However, leaving the hob unattended can have serious consequences. As well as pans and food boiling over posing the threat of a fire, kitchen appliances, tea towels etc can also catch fire when unattended. You must only use your kitchen if you have the time to wait and ensure all risks are avoided!

Ensure you are set up comfortably to reduce the risk of back, neck & leg problems.

Just like in the office, you should conduct your own DSE assessment. (Your employer should encourage this and request evidence that you have undertaken the assessment).

Employers should always aim to meet the needs of their employees when working from home, this could mean providing you with equipment to use at home. It is essential that you report any problems or difficulties that you are experiencing whilst working from home to get the support you need. You should always look to report;

  • Any aches, pains or discomfort related to their temporary DSE arrangements
  • Any adverse effects of working in isolation, on remote IT systems
  • Any working longer hours without adequate rest and recovery breaks

Always keep in touch with your employer and colleagues. You must remember you are not alone, and your employer is there to help and support you. Although this may be a strange and difficult time for many, help is available, and any concerns must be addressed.

Be kind to yourself

Remember, this is an unusual time, and it is important to be kind to yourself. Here are 5 of our top tips for getting the most out of working from home;

Set and stick to a routine

Make sure you have a structure and stick to it. This will help you stay in routine and be more productive. Do not go working long hours every day just because you are at home. Make sure you are balancing work and home life as your normally would. At the end of the working day – log off! spend time with your loved ones, go for a walk, get some fresh air and recharge.

Give yourself regular breaks

Five/ten minutes every couple of hours will break your day up and keep you motivated. Powering through with no breaks will not only tire you out, it won’t make you any more productive and you will be more likely to make mistakes, so make sure you take those breaks!

Stay connected

You might not be in the office with your work friends, but you can all contact each other and check in to make sure you are all okay and know that support it available. Why not schedule a Zoom catch up? Nothing work related - relax your minds and catch up over a coffee virtually!

Get up & Show up

You might be at home and working in your pj’s seems like heaven, but did you know, you are more likely to be less productive and unengaged if you don’t get dressed and ready in the morning? We aren’t saying get up and put your best suit or office dress on, but make an effort. Take a shower, get changed and prepare for the day as if you were leaving the house. Zoom meetings might be less formal, but there is no excuse to turn up as if you have just rolled out of bed! After all, you are working.

Weekend working

If you aren’t contracted or required to work on the weekend, don’t! Your computer may be in touching distance and you might be itching to reply to those emails but remember, it’s the weekend! Spend time with your family and friends, have some down time. Work can wait until Monday!

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