Shop Talk: Working from home

Shop Talk: Working from home

​​​What will we do today to prevent an incident? A worker sits at a table in his home. His laptop is sitting on a stack of books.

More and more, we are seeing work from home or hybrid schedules. Safety is just as important at home as it is at work, and the risk of injury is the same.    

What's the​ hazard?

If workers do not have the proper equipment or set-up at home to create a safe work area, they are at risk of developing musculoskeletal symptoms that can impact their comfort and productivity:

  • Poor working postures can lead to discomfort in the neck, back, arms and hands.
  • Prolonged exposure can contribute to more cumulative conditions such as headaches, tennis elbow or other musculoskeletal injuries.

Hazards can be related to:

  • improper working heights, reaching zones and lighting
  • extended duration or increased frequency of the work being done, and not taking adequate breaks
  • distraction, fatigue or lack of focus.

What ca​n happen?

Sean has been working on his laptop at his dining room table for two weeks. It was OK at first, but now he is finding that his neck is stiff, he is having difficulty staying on task, and he is experiencing other aches and pains.

Based on the scenario above, here are some ques​​tions that could be used to spark discussion:

  1. How could this situation have been prevented?
  2. What strategies can you use to be safer and more comfortable while working from home?

What precaution​s can be taken to ensure work from home is safe?

Workers working from home can reduce their risk of injury by setting up their working area as close to their office setting as possible, and taking some time to follow some of these tips:

  • Consider using an external mouse and keyboard with your laptop.

  • Raise your laptop so that your line of vision is approximately 1 inch from the top of the laptop monitor (use external mouse and keyboard to maintain an ergonomic posture).

  • Try to have your keyboard and mouse at elbow height.

  • Use a supportive chair. Use a small cushion for added lumbar support if needed.

  • Maintain a routine: wake up, get dressed for work, take your regular breaks and lunch, and turn off work at the end of your shift.

  • Stretch! Set a timer for regular breaks to get up, move and stretch.

  • Ensure you get proper rest, good nutrition and exercise.

  • Consider relaxation or meditation strategies.

Other resour​ces:

Some additional SAFE Work Manitoba resources include:

Bulletin 233: Ergonomics – Hazards of the Seated Posture

Bulletin 234: Office Ergonomics – Neck and Shoulder Hazards

Bulletin 235: Office Ergonomics – Arm, Hand and Wrist Hazards

Bulletin 264: Adjusting the Office Workstation

Share y​​our ideas!

If you have an idea for Shop Talk that you think others would benefit from, we'd like to hear about it. Email us:

For more informa​​tion:

Call 204-957-SAFE (7233) or toll-free ​1-855-957-SAFE (7233).​

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