Remote Worker Safety and Ergonomics

Man checks his cellphone while working at home with laptop on his lap

Due to the highly contagious and potentially life-threating nature of the COVID-19 virus, there has been a recent surge in the number of employers asking or requiring their employees to work from home. As a safety company, MEMIC needs to be particularly diligent and visible in our protocols to minimize the possibility of infecting each other, our families and friends, as well as the general population. As of March 12, 2020, all MEMIC Safety Management Consultants will support you through conference calls and Webex meetings to try and lessen the spread of COVID-19.

Here are some tips and recommendations to help keep you safe while working at home.

Take frequent breaks throughout the day to get up, move around and stretch, and stay hydrated with plenty of water.

Desktop Ergonomics

  • Adjust monitor(s) so that the top of the screen is at eye level.
  • Place mouse and keyboard on the same plane to avoid overreaching.
  • Keep wrists/hands/forearms aligned and shoulders relaxed. 

Laptop Ergonomics

  • Utilize wireless keyboard and mouse whenever possible.
  • Find a chair that is comfortable, one in which you can sit back while positioning the laptop in your lap for the most neutral wrist posture that you can achieve. 
  • Angle the laptop screen so that you can see it with the least amount of neck deviation (avoid static forward head posture). 

Tablet Ergonomics

  • If possible, don’t hold a tablet for more than twenty minutes of continuous use. 
  • Use a stand with an external keyboard if possible.
  • Three common grip methods of tablets are clipboard, flat palm, and thumb grip. Alternate between the grips every few minutes.

Smartphone Ergonomics

  • Think about head posture! To keep your head upright, hold the device at chest height or slightly higher. 
  • Cross one arm over your chest to support the weight of your arm holding the smartphone to help with arm fatigue. The fatigue is also a good cue to take a break! 
  • Keep smartphone interactions short and sweet – under five minute durations. Save the longer interactions for your desktop (or laptop) computer.

Slip/Trip/Fall Prevention

  • Ensure all walking surfaces are kept clean and free of slip/trip hazards such as power cords, spilled beverages & clutter.
  • Remain aware of the differences in floor types (tile, hardwood, carpet, etc.) as well as outdoor ground conditions. Always use handrails while ascending/descending stairs. 
  • Choose the proper footwear for the walking surface conditions. 

Here are some additional resources for information and recommendations. 
MEMIC 10 Tips for a Perfect Fit Office Worksheet
MEMIC Stretching & Moving for Your Health Poster (Office)
MEMIC Webinar: Ergonomics and the Mobile Worker
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19
The CDC has posted guidelines for self-quarantining to prevent the spread of COVID-19 if you are sick
OSHA COVID-19 information
American Healthcare Association COVID-19 information
American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living COVID-19 screening checklist
Assessing My Home Office


Written by Jeremiah LaCross and Jennifer Campbell