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As Workplace, Home Has Hazards


"Out of sight, out of mind," she said. "If kids don't see it, they won't know it's there to play with."

Other tips offered by Sparks: Keep a fire extinguisher handy, make sure protruding wires are repaired immediately, and read the instruction manuals for electronic equipment.

For example, you might not have known that most copy machines require their own outlet if you hadn't come across it in the manual.

Above all, the experts say, remember that you are protecting yourself and your family.

"We take unnecessary liberties [with our safety] at home," said Kaplan of the National Safety Council. "Some of these hazards can be very, very serious."


Safe at Home

Working at home has comforts--maybe too many. Without workplace auditors to point out problems, safety is often the last thing on a telecommuter's mind. A paper shredder or a tangle of computer cords can be hazardous not only to the worker, but to a child or animal that drops by "the office." How to keep a home officer safer:

* Computer/monitor/chair adjusted for ergonomic comfort.

* Electronic equipment sits on solid furniture

* Fire extinguisher readily available.

* Cords tied behind desk; neatly and out of the way.

* Floor is clean and clutter-free, preventing trips.

* No candles, which can be fire hazards, used as decoration.

* Paper shredders kept unplugged and out of the way when not in use.

* No cords dangling from electronic equipment kept in closets or on shelves.

* Desk drawers equipped with child safety locks.

* Sharp objects, such as scissors or letter openers kept in opaque containers or in the back of the drawer.

* Electronic equipment plugged into circuit controller.

* Copy machine has its own outlet, not shared with anything else.

Source: National Safety Council, California Department of Labor

Tips on Extension Cord Use

* Use extension cords only as a temporary connection.

* Check the cord's amperage rating (indicated as "A" or "amps") and make sure that the total rating of appliances plugged into the cord is not more than the cord can safely carry.

* Use a heavy-duty, grounded, three-wire cord for power tools.

* Use cords that are approved by Underwriters Laboratory and carry the UL trademark.

* Discard cords that are frayed, have cracked insulation or damaged plugs.

* Grasp the plug--not the cord--to remove cords from outlets.

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