Protecting Yourself While Working from Home

By Ginger Kloska, Process Improvement & Change Management Intern



Most of us are already starting to be fluent in in-office safety, especially in regards to COVID-19. However, a lot of individuals disregard their safety while working remotely. Did you know that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, 33% of all worker injury and illness cases were due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders? Musculoskeletal disorders affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons and working from home in an (not ideal) workspace can cause or aggravate these. That is why it is so essential to assess your workspace safety. 

Ergonomic Assessment

Protecting yourself starts with assessing your needs. Start by looking at your workspace. The Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT’s) Office of Transportation Safety & Risk Management recommends starting with establishing a neutral posture. This includes having your feet supported on the floor or a footrest, keeping your knees slightly below your hips, shoulders relaxed, and lower back supported. Make sure your workstation follows these guidelines and you can mitigate the risks of musculoskeletal disorders.

Neutral Posture Example

Other Tips and Tricks

Everyday, it feels like our screen time is constantly growing. With that, comes the need to protect our eyes from strain. While blue light glasses can be a tool to combat eye strain, most desktop screens have settings to help you as well. On Windows 10 systems, this setting is called Night Light Mode. To get to this, go to your system display settings and turn on your night light settings. The picture below displays a more detailed instruction.

System Settings Example

The best part of ergonomic safety is taking breaks! A great way to maintain productivity and keep yourself safe is by taking 5-minute breaks once an hour away from your workstation. During these breaks, you can stretch, hydrate, and eat a healthy snack. The main point of taking a break is getting away from your workstation and screens. If you are too busy for that, you can take mini-breaks using the “20-20-20” rule. Every 20 minutes, take a break for at least 20 seconds and stare at something that is approximately 20 feet away from you. The best way to remind yourself is to set a timer on your phone or another device. 

For CDOT employees, we highly recommend taking a look at the Office of Transportation Safety & Risk Management’s website on work from home safety. This site details exactly what to do to maintain your safety both at home and at work. Ergonomics are not just for office employees. They’re for Maintenance workers too! Take a look at their Maintenance ergonomic tips for more information on how to keep yourself safe in the workplace.

For those outside of CDOT, here are some additional resources that provide more tips and tricks on maintaining a safe and productive at home workspace:

WebMD Ergonomic Tips for a Home Office

United States Department of Homeland Security’s Safe and Healthy Teleworking

United States Office of Personnel Management Safety Checklist