The pandemic, over the last year, has seen many of us change routine. No commuting, simply shuffling from bed to desk to carry out our work…it’s fair to say that we may currently have different day and night-time routines.
For example, pre-pandemic, you may have spent time on an evening ironing/choosing your outfit for the office the next day. Perhaps even making your lunch to save time in the morning, which could mean an extra ten minutes in bed.
Now, you may have to tidy your workspace up at home, to allow other family members to use the space. You may have to charge laptops and mobile devices that would have been left in the office had Covid-19 not come along.
Staying safe during the pandemic extends to more than just protecting yourself against the virus. It means getting into good habits and being aware of dangers that you may never have been exposed to before, when working from a shared office.
As mentioned, you may have worked from a desktop PC at your employers’ but you’re now using a company laptop at home whilst everyone is in lockdown. Maybe you work from your bedroom as it’s the only available/comfy space to do so.
If this is the case, choose a suitable place to rest your laptop/tablet whilst it’s charging. Do not rest it on your bedcovers, plugged into the mains, whilst you’re asleep.
It needs to be on a flat, hard, non-flammable surface to reduce the risk of fire.
In a professional office, there will likely be a good working set-up, with the position of electrical sockets in sensible places and an overall number of outlets that meet the needs of the number of people the space is designed for. At home, however, this may be quite different.
If you’ve had to fashion a home office in a corner of your abode that isn’t abundant with sockets, you may have trailed an extension (or two) to enable you to power the equipment you need. If you’ve plugged in and are using, for example, your laptop/tablet charger, your phone charger, a printer, a shredder all at the same time, you could exceed the maximum current rating for that lead. It’s easily done.
Worst case scenario: the socket could overheat, and in some situations, fires could start.
Watch where you’re going
On a similar vein, professional office layouts have sockets in the floor or at specific points to minimise (or even eradicate altogether) electrical leads trailing all over the floor for everyone and their dog to trip over.
Your home office may not be configured this way, and whilst the worst for many workers may simply be a mass of leads like Spaghetti Junction behind their home office desk, others could be risking life and limb as they walk over various cables whilst working.
It may seem a harmless thing to trip up over a wanton lead on the floor, but what if your head met the corner of your desk as you fell? You could take your eye out, or worse. If this sounds like a horror movie, you wouldn’t be far wrong…6,000 people die from accidents in the home in the UK each year. Apologies for being so graphic, but health and safety in the home is such an important subject.
Other (tiny) people in the home
Whilst you wouldn’t take your young kids into your employer’s office with you, when working from home, these tiny colleagues are around, and they’re mobile and inquisitive.
Ensure unused electrical sockets have protective covers, even those on an extension lead. Never leave young children unattended near electrical items; they could pull a heavy object on themselves via the power cord, they could damage the cord itself and receive an electric shock for their efforts, as well as a hundred other things that could cause them injury.
When things break down in your employer’s office, it’s not usually the office staff who get things up and running again – it tends to be the IT guy, the electrician, the odd-job-man (we’re just using recognisable terms here, help can come from other genders!).
At home, you might not have any of these people around to help you if your laptop, printer, etc. isn’t firing up or playing ball.
If you’ve googled the problem and it’s clearly more in-depth than simply attempting to reboot the device/item, don’t be tempted to try and solve the issue yourself – especially if the problem looks to be with the power source. Electricians have to undergo a raft of training and hold various qualifications before they can tackle wiring problems and the electrical systems in a home. There’s a very good reason for this. If you’re not a qualified professional, leave it alone and call for help.
If it looks dodgy, bin it
Power cords can often become damaged as they’re moved from pillar to post and dragged across various flows/walls. The plastic tubing around the live wires can split and tear as a result.
The tubing serves a purpose; it’s not just there to make the cord look pretty or tidier. Live currents pass through these cords, which the plastic tubing protects users from. If the cord is damaged and you can see its wires, turn off the appliance it is powering and replace it immediately.
When purchasing a new power cord, be careful not to buy imported electrical replacements - these may not adhere to British safety regulations and they could be as much of a fire risk as the original damaged cord. Always buy from reputable suppliers, such as Electricals Online.