Occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety

There’s no HR department checking that you are comfortable and that your workstation complies with occupational health and safety regulations when you work at home. You might be able to do as you please, … but there are disadvantages, too. For example, if you work in a nice office, the owners pick up the heating and air conditioning bills, whereas when you are alone at home, you probably don’t want to spend half your earnings on gas and electricity, and so you just sit there, sweating or shivering, depending on the time of year.

At the time of writing, it is supposed to be winter, but in my Mediterranean home I am still awakening to beautiful sunrises and warm days. When evening falls, all I need is my weird translator’s poncho to keep me warm. December is here, but am still leaving the windows and doors open all day. Eventually it will get colder, and I will get out my trusty fleecy electric foot warmer and electrically heated pad (which I put between my back and the chair). If I have to, switch on the central heating.

Ah, and that reminds me, this week I completed an online occupational health and safety course, which was a prerequisite for being allowed to work for Madrid City Council. It was the usual boring course, full of regulations and laws, with very little practical information that could be put to any use in my home office, however, I do remember some regulations governing office chairs. Apparently, the arms, back and height must be adjustable, and they must have five wheels. My chair complied with all the above, but it must have been a bit past its sell-by date, because yesterday I managed to snap one of the wheels off as I bent over in a strange way trying to throw some paper in the bin. I came a real cropper, and the chair flipped right over. Thankfully, I am well padded, and was unharmed.

That made me think about another disadvantage of working at home on my own. What if I had been alone and knocked myself out, nobody would notice until I didn’t send my work in, and all my clients live at least 70 km away!

Yes, if I worked in an office, I am sure I wouldn’t have been sitting on such a crummy old chair, but then I wouldn’t be allowed to wear my translator’s poncho or put my bare feet in a fleecy electric foot warmer, either!

Juliet Allaway

Written by editor