The Federal government’s work health and safety regulator has released a checklist for employees who are working from home.
The resource produced by Comcare offers advice on several aspects of working remotely, including communication, mental health, and work environment, as part of the authority’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The checklist recommends workers take breaks every 30 minutes of keyboarding, and stand at least once per hour, as well as keeping wrists lifted while typing, and sitting upright or slightly reclined.
Employees should also hold a telephone receiver with their hand or wear a headset, rather than cradling, and should break up long periods of continuous computer use by performing other tasks.
The work space should be well ventilated, and a comfortable temperature. Comcare notes that details such as lighting levels are also important.
“Greater illumination is generally needed for very fine visual tasks. Natural and artificial light sources should not create glare via reflection on the computer screen or working surface,” the checklist states.
The location, height and other physical characteristics of furniture and computers should also be suited to the task, walkways must be clear of clutter and trip hazards, and employees should be aware of damaged or uneven flooring.
Comcare recommends workers only use equipment that has been issued by their organisation, and has recently been tagged and tested.
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When it comes to communication, strategies and agreements should be documented, according to Comcare. An employer and their staff member should set up an agreement on a reasonable communication system to monitor the worker’s health and safety, and PCBUs must be notified of any change in the worker’s situation that could affect an employee’s health and safety when working from home, such as a new pet, or renovations.
Comcare also presents a range of recommendations regarding mental health, including:
- Setting up a workstation and establishing boundaries around work hours with family or house mates,
- Scheduling regular meetings and catch ups with colleagues and clients to “maintain ongoing contact and foster positive working relationships”,
- Staying connected via phone, email and online to stay up to date with work and the organisation,
- Using outdoor spaces where possible when on breaks,
- Incorporating exercise or other activity into the working day,
- Playing music to “create a harmonious working environment”,
- Identifying potential distractions and putting strategies in place to minimise them, such as separating the workstation from the rest of the house.