Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently retreated from a proposed policy on safety standards for private sector employees who work at home, a similar set of guidelines already applies for the estimated 26,000 federal employees who telecommute, by working at least part of their time from home or from telecommuting centers. There’s a set of “workstation design and inspection guidelines” designed to familiarize employees with potential hazards in an office work environment including electrical safety and fire protection and proper use of storage, coffee pots and other small appliances, computer monitors and even desks and chairs. There’s also a “self-certification safety checklist” of 27 questions, including whether stairs are equipped with handrails and whether chairs are adjustable — the same types of questions that drew fire when OSHA proposed them nationally. Individual agencies set their own agreements with telecommuters, covering issues including safety matters.
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