When you’re self-employed and working mainly from home it’s easy to forget to think about your health and safety. I know I’m very guilty of that. You know that an employer is just as responsible for a worker’s health and safety when they work at home just as they are for office workers, but when you are not employed and therefore don’t have a manager or health and safety representative considering these things it’s easy to let it slide.
But whether you are technically employed by your own limited company, or working as a sole trader, it makes commercial sense to look out for your health and safety. You need to work or you won’t earn money, but if you are overtired, become ill or suffer from back problems or similar, you won’t work as effectively if at all.
If you are too ill to work not only will you not get sick pay, your immediate and long-term earnings will be affected too. Too ill to go to a networking event? Staying at home may not have an immediate impact on whether you get paid, but you might miss out on a fabulous lead to a long-term and lucrative client, so you need to look after yourself.
One of the typical things that people overlook with health and safety at home is working position. In a ‘normal’ office you’d have a proper office chair, probably a PC at the right height, and probably someone doing risk assessments who knows about these things.
It’s just as important at home. Make sure you have a proper adjustable office-type chair and a suitable working surface (not a laptop on your lap on the sofa…), and if at all possible, make sure your computer screen is at the right height so you don’t hunch over. You may need a docking station or stand if you are using a laptop rather than a desktop computer.
Make sure the room you are in is adequately lit for work, and is warm enough, and make sure you break up computer work with other tasks to give your eyes a break from the screen.
It’s so easy not to bother about this stuff when you’re your own boss. You’ve got loads on your plate and aren’t going to bring a legal claim against yourself anyway, right? But instead think of yourself as being a huge commercial asset to your business. You need to look after that!