Working from home: Health and safety considerations Jump to main content

Working from home: Health and safety considerations

Employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for employees working at home as for any other workers, but if you’re working from home there are other implications of which you may not be aware of.

In this article we give you some guidance on the health and safety issues you need to consider when working remotely on a desk or computer.

Working environment

Your workspace should be warm and well-lit with adequate ventilation and there should be sufficient space for furniture and equipment for you to work comfortably.

Be aware of potential trip hazards from cables and leads and increased noise levels, for example from printers, which may affect your concentration.

You should have enough room at your desk to change position and vary movement. Try to keep frequently used items within easy reach.

If you have to read or refer to documents frequently, consider investing in a document holder rather than having them flat on the desk. This will help reduce head and neck movements.

Ideally, your chair should have a seat back height and tilt adjustment and lumber support. You should be able to adjust the height of the chair so that you can place your feet flat on the floor when working without too much pressure from the seat on the backs of your legs.

Computer work

When working on a computer, your eye-line should be just below the top of the screen and the screen should be positioned in front of you at approximately an arm’s length away.

If you work on a laptop, consider investing in a stand so that you are not constantly looking down at the screen.

Consider how comfortable you are when typing. You should be able to rest your wrists in front of the keyboard. A wrist rest may also provide additional comfort. If you use a laptop, consider using a separate keyboard and mouse.

Your mouse should be close to you and next to your keyboard. Be aware of arm overreaching, bent wrists and tense arms. Try not leave your hand on the mouse when not in use.

You should have support for your wrist and forearm when using the mouse – either from the surface of the desk or the arm of a chair. If not, consider investing in a support device.

ISM partner PhysioMed, has provided guidance looking at how to set up a home work station to avoid back pain, which you can follow.

Remember to break up long periods of screen work with rest breaks or changes in activity. Aim for at least a five minute rest break for every hour of work.

Change your focus or blink from time to time to avoid eye fatigue.


When working at your desk or computer, especially for long periods of time, it can be easy to forget about your posture.

Try to make sure:

  • your head is upright, not bent down or backwards
  • your head is facing forward most of the time
  • your trunk is held straight
  • your lower back is supported
  • you are sitting right back into your chair
  • your shoulders are relaxed
  • your arms are relaxed by your sides with your elbows below your shoulders
  • your forearms are horizontal and your wrists are in line with your forearms
  • you have space under your desk so you can move your legs
  • you use a headset if you are regularly using a phone at the same time as using the keyboard or mouse

Change your position regularly and take breaks when you get up and move or stretch.

ISM members can access free physiotherapy services through PhysioMed. This includes telephone appointments and treatment plans, so you can access it from home.

If you want to learn more about the tax implications of working from home, planning permission and insurance requirements be sure to read our article on home working.

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