Working from home has a lot of benefits. Not only are you saving money on commuting and expensive lunches out… but there are so many meetings that can now be carried out as emails!
As you are in a familiar environment when working from home, you may let your guard down a little. However, it’s just as important as ever to stay safe and protect yourself from potential hazards.
Here are some of the ways you can keep your electrical equipment safe when working from home.
Don’t leave laptops and phones charging on a bed or soft surface
As lovely as it would be for everyone to have a dedicated space to work, this isn’t always the case. Some of us have to work wherever we can, whether that is in the kitchen, living room or bedroom!
If this is the case, don’t leave your laptop or phone charging on a soft surface while you take a lunch break or pop out to run an errand.
This happens more than you might think. For example, we carried out research a short while ago and found that 1 in 12 people leave their phone charging under a pillow.
Why is this so dangerous? It can block vents and cause the device to overheat, causing a potential fire risk.
If you need to charge your work equipment, do it on a hard, non-flammable surface like a table or countertop.
Check your equipment before you use it
You wouldn’t get in a car that has a wheel falling off and a smashed windscreen… so why would you use a laptop or computer that is looking worse for wear?
Always get in the habit of checking your work equipment before you use it. Look for the following:
- Is the cable frayed?
- Are the wires exposed?
- Is the cable a potential trip hazard?
- Is the casing cracked?
- Is the casing warped?
- Is the casing discoloured?
- Is the casing scorched or burned?
- Is the plug socket damaged?
- Are the pins loose?
- Are you using extension reels or sockets? If yes, are they coiled, twisted or overloaded?
- Can you hear, smell or see anything unusual when you turn the equipment on?
If you are concerned about the equipment you have been given, don’t use it, and ask your line manager to arrange a replacement.
Don’t overload plug sockets
Sometimes we need to work in rooms that don’t have a lot of plug sockets. If this is the case, an extension lead can be a lifesaver!
However, you need to take care with extension leads, extension cords and block adaptors. If overloaded, they can cause a fire.
Not all electrical equipment is created equal. Different equipment uses different amounts of power. For example, a kettle uses 20 times more power than a fridge does.
Electrical Safety First has a ‘socket calculator’, so you can see if the combination of equipment you plug in is potentially dangerous.
If you do need to use an extension lead, keep safe with the following tips:
- Only use one extension lead per socket and never plug an extension lead into another (this is known as ‘daisy-chaining’)
- Always make sure your extension lead has a fuse (some block adaptors don’t). That way, if it overloads, it will shut down, reducing the risk of fire
- Keep an eye out for anything unusual, like the smell of burning plastic or smoke. If you see, hear or smell anything, unplug the extension lead and the equipment straightaway
- Make sure the cable of your extension lead isn't a trip hazard
If you regularly use extension leads, it may be worth asking a registered electrician to install more sockets for you.
Turn off and unplug equipment if you’re not using it
It’s 5pm and the working day is done.
Before you take the short commute from the office to the living room or kitchen, be sure to turn off and unplug your equipment.
Plugged in equipment still draws small amounts of power, meaning that it could potentially overheat when you are not in the room.
Another benefit of this is that you can save money up to £80 by taking your equipment off standby.
Staying safe and money in your pocket is always a winning combination!
Are your staff working from home? Electrical equipment testing is still important
If staff are working from home, you are still responsible for their safety and wellbeing.
If you get electrical equipment testing (also known as PAT testing) carried out in the workplace, you should extend it to home workers too.
There are two ways of carrying out electrical equipment testing for your home workers. You can get the engineer to visit them at home or ask your employees to bring their equipment in for testing when they next come into the office.
Hawkesworth has years of experience carrying out testing for businesses with home workers, including the NHBC.