Taking Home a Health and Safety Culture
By Heather Caul, Recruitment Consultant, Chemistry Consulting Group
Health and Safety committees exist at work for good reason. Most employers are required to assemble a health and safety committee to address a required list of areas to reduce unnecessary harm and injury to employees. Most importantly, these committees address prevention and putting measures in place to reduce the chance of safety issues arising. Now that many employees have shifted to working virtually from home, this is a timely and valuable opportunity to influence employees’ health and safety culture at home.
In addition to parents working from home, in some jurisdictions, school-age children are learning virtually, and older siblings registered in post-secondary institutions may also have set up workstations to study from home. It’s not ideal for anyone but learning how to implement a culture of health and safety at home may influence work habits that students might take with them into their future workplaces.
The switch to at home learning has eliminated most outlets for face-to-face social interactions which we know are critical for mental and social development. Parents can encourage their children and young adults to be mindful of how much the structure of their normal day has changed. The little rewards and interactions that may have provided balance to their day, no longer exist. Parents can make suggestions and model a culture of health, wellness, and safety in the home. It’s going to look different from the workplace, but some of those core principles can be applied at home. Some suggestions include:
- Having regular sleep hours. Most students will identify what works best for them but scheduling the right number of hours of sleep is usually the foundation of having a productive day. Parents can help model this by having a structured sleep routine themselves.
- Eating healthy. The convenience temptation can be the driving force behind a student who just wants to eat quickly and often unhealthily to be on time for an online lecture or assignment. Provide lots of easy, healthy accessible food choices. Some favourite options include nuts, veggies and humous, nut butters, fruit smoothies with protein powder, yogurt, and fruit. Try to gather for a sit-down meal at least once a day to provide some much-needed discussion and interaction.
- Set up workstations with ergonomic principles in mind. A quick google search will produce all sorts of at home suggestions to quickly and effectively set up a workstation that doesn’t contribute to chronic health issues down the road, including eye strain, body aches and pains and the requirement for treatment in order to reverse the effects of putting your body in an awkward sitting position day after day. Review and make a commitment to implement some ergonomic principles into your at-home workstations.
- Get outside every day. Breath in some fresh air and decompress from the demands of the day. Plan hikes and walks and outdoor activities to continue to reap the benefits of interacting with nature. Start or continue to commit to a daily exercise routine. Making a regular commitment to meet and walk with a friend on a scheduled day and time will help you with your wellness goals. Take the initiative – everyone needs regular activities to look forward to right now.
- Review at home safety precautions. Now is a good time to update batteries in fire detectors, install Carbon Monoxide detectors, purchase a fire extinguisher. Fix existing safety hazards that could cause tripping, slipping or electrical hazards or ventilation problems. Print off a household checklist and involve your students in addressing hazards – they will likely remember this process when they venture off to get their own homes one day.
Use this opportunity of working from home to get a fresh perspective on what changes and additions would not only enhance the learning and productivity for all household members but potentially could reduce the chance of a safety issue arising. Improving your health and safety culture at home will ultimately improve your overall family wellness.