As Canadians continue to spend increased amounts of time at home in light of COVID-19, keeping a clean and safe at-home work environment is more important than ever. Keep in mind that some of the most dangerous hazards are not obvious and may be difficult to see. This article will identify the biological hazards that could be present in your home. It will also suggest techniques to eliminate these risks and preserve your safety while working from home.
What is a Biological Hazard?
The definition of biological hazards, commonly known as biohazards, can be any biological substance that could cause harm to humans. They may include pathogen micro-organisms, bacteria, toxins, viruses, fungi, spores, or other substance that comes from people, plants, or animals. Biological hazards are known to cause skin irritations and allergic reactions, as well as very serious conditions such as tuberculosis or cancer, depending on the hazard. These hazards enter the human body through three main pathways: the respiratory tract, transmission via bodily fluids, or coming in contact with contaminated objects.
Biological Hazards in the Home
Biological hazards can be found anywhere, and exist in most workplaces, laboratories, unsanitary areas, and work environments. These hazards are especially pertinent in areas with poor airflow or limited ventilation. As you set up your workspace at home, be mindful of the biological hazards that exist around you. Common hazards in the home may include mold, airborne pathogens, sewage, and harmful plants or insects. Carpets, wallpapers, potted plants, and other areas that are either damp, wet, or hold water are fertile grounds for biohazards to originate. Before settling into your office, conduct an at-home hazard assessment to identify the risks at play. Once you know the hazards, then you can take steps to systematically eliminate or mitigate them. Learn more about conducting a hazard assessment at home on our sister site Scatterling.co
Working Alone with Biological Hazards
Many Canadians who are now working from home are facing an additional phenomenon: the new risks associated with lone or remote working. Working alone in the presence of biological hazards only magnifies the risks faced by employees at home, due to their inability to seek immediate help. Many biological hazards are not obvious and may difficult to identify. A worker’s risk may be increased if they are required to work outside, simply because they will be exposed to a broader spectrum of biological safety risks. If a worker gets stung by a bee and is allergic, the injury could become very serious if they are unable to seek immediate help.
Mitigating Your Risk of Injury
With more employees working at home than ever before, the need to keep your lone workers safe has never been so high. Although biological hazards may not seem like the most pressing of concerns, they can be detrimental to your employees’ health if they are not handled properly. Make sure that all of the hazards identified in your hazard assessment are addressed and mitigated.
Ensure that your work area is home to proper ventilation in order to prevent the build-up of unwanted or harmful substances. Proper cleaning of your work area is important. Even if it appears to be clean, bacteria can build-up quickly and is impossible to see. Sanitizing your desk space is an effective way to ensure a clean and safe work environment.
In addition to promoting a safe and clean work environment for each worker in your organization, establishing a check-in procedure is an additional way to ensure the safety of your workforce. Set predetermined check-in times at which employees can check in throughout the day. A check-in procedure is a great way to maintain regular contact with your remote staff and have peace of mind that they are safe in their at-home work environments.
As much of our country is currently working from home, employers and employees must do what they can to minimize safety risks in their new work environments. Being mindful of the potential biological hazards that may exist in your home is essential.