Keeping employees safe from the hazards and risks of working from home

A person using a computer at home looking outside a window.In a recent survey among human resources professionals, approximately two-thirds said their organization will offer employees a permanent hybrid work arrangement—working partially at home and in the office [HRPA, 2021]. Although working from home may seem to be low risk, employers must ensure measures are put in place to avoid incidents that can cause injuries and illness.

Is a home office considered a workplace?

It’s confusing. According to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), an employer has the same responsibility for an injury or illness occurring while working from home as in the office. A neck injury from prolonged computer use, a slip and fall over a desk drawer, or other injuries and illnesses may be compensable if they occurred while work is performed at home.

On the other hand, the Occupational Health and Safety Act does not apply to private residences where work is performed by the owner [subsection 3(1)]. In other words, enforcement by health and safety regulators (e.g. Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development) is limited and unlikely in a home office.

Putting measures in place to protect home-office employees

Regardless of where it takes place, an injury can impact a company’s WSIB premiums, reduce a worker’s ability to perform optimally, and result in negative publicity, such as the case of an Air Canada employee who fell down a set of stairs in her home.


Here are some measures your business can take to keep home office employees healthy and safe while minimizing your company’s risk.

1. Establish a policy and ensure responsibilities are understood

All workplace parties should understand the company’s commitment to keeping employees safe while working from home. A policy should be developed by the company, distributed, understood, and acknowledged by all workplace parties. The policy should:

  • describe the company’s commitment to keeping employees healthy and safe while working from home
  • outline responsibilities, such as those of the employer, supervisor and employee.
  • set out responsibilities for identifying and reporting home office hazards, and who will be responsible for supporting and implementing measures to reduce the risk of incidents.

2. How will hazards in a home office be identified?

Home office employees may face a variety of common hazards and risks that can cause injury, illnesses, and incidents. An inspection form can help uncover some of the common home office hazards. Some of the most common types of home office hazards are listed below.

Computer workMusculoskeletal disorders can include injury to the neck, wrists, and low back. Poor postures, prolonged sitting, repetitive tasks, and contact pressures are some of the risks that can lead to injury
Poor housekeepingSlips and falls can occur when employees trip over boxes, open drawers, or cables. Stairs, slippery surfaces and icy conditions can cause slips and falls too
ElectricityShock or fire from equipment that is not grounded, overloaded outlets, damaged cable insulation, or use of electrical equipment near wet areas
Fuel-burning appliancesAsphyxiation from carbon monoxide, fire
Poor lightingEyestrain from dim lighting or computer glare
Working alonePersonal safety and security

3. How will your company implement measures and procedures to reduce risk?

If employees will be required to carry out home office inspections or computer workstation assessments, it is important to clearly indicate how this information will be collected. For example,

  • Will your company create an online home office inspection form?
  • How often will the inspection be required?
  • What will your company do with the results?

If your company provides home office equipment to employees, such as desks, chairs, and keyboard trays, it is important to clearly indicate how this equipment will be ordered, how it should be set up properly, and measures that need to be taken to reduce the risk of a musculoskeletal injury during its use (e.g. taking rest breaks every 30 minutes).

4. Provide training and instruction.

Employees should understand the hazards they may face while working from home and the measures that need to be taken to reduce risk. Instruction and training should be documented and may consider some of the following elements.

  • Work-from-home policy: Employees must understand the company’s work-from-home policy and responsibilities for reducing the risk of injury or illness.
  • Hazards: Ensure employees understand the hazards they may face and how your company will support the prevention of injuries, illnesses, and incidents. For example
    1. Do employees know that prolonged computer use can cause injury?
    2. Are they aware using a laptop at their kitchen table for long periods and not a desk can be hazardous?
    3. Do employees know that cluttered work areas and numerous extension cords can cause a trip and fall?
    4. What may happen if carbon monoxide detectors are not functioning properly and a water heater in their home malfunctions?
  • Equipment and procedures: Home office employees should also be trained to use equipment provided to them. For example,
    1. Do employees know how to properly adjust their desk, chair, monitor, and keyboard tray?
    2. Are employees instructed to inspect their work area each day and organize clutter that may cause a trip and fall?
    3. Are employees reminded when it is time to test life-saving equipment such as smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, change batteries, or replace units?

More employees work from home than ever before. Companies should consider the hazards and risks employees may face from working in a home office, and implement some additional strategies that can reduce the risk of injuries, illnesses and incidents.


WorkBright™ specializes in helping businesses address hazards associated with working from home. Call us to learn more about how we can help you.


Workplace Safety & Insurance Board. (2022). Frequently asked questions. Retrieved:

Human Resources Professional Association. (2021). HR trends survey 2021. Retrieved: