Safety Tips for Working at Alternate Worksites


Your safety is important to us and must be a priority when performing your work.  The following are guidelines for you to follow when working at alternate worksites away from the main office.

Working at Home

Working in the Community

Parking and walking outside tips:

Emergency Evacuation Tips

Injury on Duty

If Emergency Treatment is Required

Motor Vehicle Accident

Workplace Violence

Working at Home

Employees working from home must safeguard their residence.  It is important to perform a risk assessment of your home environment to eliminate safety hazards:


General Working Conditions:

  • Make sure that walking surfaces are dry and cleared from obstructions.
  • Make sure your work area is quiet and free of distractions.

  • Make sure your room temperature, ventilation and lighting are adequate.  Avoid noisy environments that could distract your attention from work.

  • Make sure you have available first aid supplies.

  • Maintain your work space free of trash, clutter, and flammable liquids.


Electrical Safety:

  • Make sure phone lines and electrical cords are secured under a desk or are running along a wall.  Electrical cords should run in non-traffic areas and should not be placed under rugs.
  • Maintain cables and lines away from heat sources.

  • Make sure computer equipment is connected to a surge protector.

  • Make sure electrical equipment is adequate for office equipment.

  • Make sure all electrical plugs, cords, outlets, and panels are in good condition.  Make sure there are no exposed or damaged wiring.

  • Make sure electrical outlets are grounded with three (3)-pronged plugs. 

  • Do not daisy chain extension cords and power strips and do no use extension cords in a permanent manner.


Fire Safety:

  • Make sure your smoke detectors work.
  • Have a fire evacuation plan in place.  Make sure aisles, hallways and doorways are unobstructed.  Identify an area in your neighborhood where it is safe if your structure become threaten by a weather event.

  • Make sure you have charged and accessible fire extinguishers.

  • Make sure you have more than one (1) exit from your work area.

  • Place portable heaters away from flammable items.


Office Ergonomics: 

  • Make sure your office furniture is ergonomically appropriate.  Avoid working from the sofa or couch with your laptop.  Awkward postures could create pain and discomfort in your neck, back, hands or legs.  Avoid poor ergonomic postures.  Maintain neutral body postures while sitting and working at a computer station:
    • Hands, wrists and forearms are straight and roughly parallel to the floor, and should not bend up, down, or to the side when you work.
    • Head is level or tilted slightly downward and facing forward, and is generally in line with your torso.

    • Shoulders are relaxed – not elevated, hunched, or rotated forward – and your upper arms hang normally at the side of the body.

    • Elbows stay in close to the body, bent at about ninety (90) degrees and not extended out in front of your body.

    • Feet are slightly out in front of your knees and comfortably supported, either by the floor or a footrest (if the desk height is not adjustable).

    • Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support.  Your entire body is upright or leaning back slightly.

    • Thighs and hips are supported by a well-padded seat and generally parallel to the floor.

    • Knees are at about the same level or slightly below the level of your hips.  There should be no pressure points along the back of your knees or thighs. 

  • Avoid glare in your monitor or laptop screen.  Glare can be caused by direct exposure of the screen to natural light and lamps or light bulbs.


Security Measures

  • Make sure you have appropriate cabinets:  keep confidential data (files and records) away from others and secured. 
  • Make sure materials and equipment are in a secure place and protected from damage or misuse.
  • Never throw out important papers with personal information; shred them instead.

  • Maintain an inventory of your equipment:  include serial number if possible.

  • Turn off your equipment when not in use.

  • Never open the door to someone you do not know.  Make sure you check first who the person is, before opening the door.

  • Keep constant communication with your direct supervisor.  Let your supervisor know the neighborhood you are visiting, projected time to visit it, time you are spending in the neighborhood and family or community group you are visiting.


Working in the Community

Employees visiting different neighborhoods should be aware of the hazards associated to the community they are visiting.  Follow these safety tips when performing visits to neighborhoods:

  • Watch for stranger – Once you know the people around you, you will be better prepared to notice strangers who seem to be hanging around a lot.  If you see the same person going back and forth on your surroundings frequently, they may be casing the neighborhood and looking for a home to rob.  Similarly, if you note an unfamiliar car that is spending a lot of time driving on your street, it could be an indication that criminals are looking for potential targets.  Warn a neighbor or call the police to report a suspicious behavior.  Avoid being victimized by crime by recognizing suspicious behaviors and preventing situations to happen.
  • Walking alone – Walk with confidence and be extremely aware of your surroundings at all times.  Pay attention to anything and anyone around you.  Criminals do not want to be seen, especially before they make an attack, and they will be likely to leave you alone if they realize you have noticed them.  This ruins the element of surprise that they rely on to catch their victims off guard.
  • Carry a cell phone – While you are out, make sure you have your cell phone so you can make an emergency call if you are in danger or come across someone who is in need of help.  Maintain the battery charged.
  • Consider carrying a self defense device – A self defense device can protect you from a potential assailant.  A device such as a personal alarm will activate a loud, shrill cream that will grab the attention of people.   

Parking and walking outside tips:

  • Hide valuables – Before leaving your home or car, hide all valuables in a secured area.  Make sure you lock the doors, close the windows before leaving.
  • Have a plan rehearsed in your head of what you will do in the event of an attack.
  • When possible, wear shoes and clothing that will not hinder an escape.  Sneakers are best and shoes with low heels are your second best.  Keep a pair in the car.  If you wear high heels and are pursued, kick them off and run barefoot.
  • Always drive through the neighborhood before parking to be familiarized with the area.  If you do not feel safe, go elsewhere and wait for someone else to arrive.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.  Watch for suspicious people or activities.
  • Park in highly visible, well lit areas.  Avoid parking near shrubbery or the side of vans that has the slide open doors. 
  • Always carefully note where you parked so you do not spend unnecessary time walking to find your car.
  • Try not to carry a lot of packages.  This could put you as an easy target.
  • Walk confidently and with a purpose and observe those around you.  If you notice someone hanging around your car or acting suspiciously do not get close to your car.  Keep your head up.
  • Have your keys readily available.  Avoid searching for your keys while you walk.  Keep vehicle key separated from other keys, if possible.
  • As you approach your car, look under and around it.  Before getting in your car look in the back seat and on the floor.
  • When you enter your car, lock all the doors and turn on your headlights.  This will allow you to see anyone outside in the dark.
  • Start the car and drive to another location that is well lit before making any necessary phone calls.  Limit the amount of time you spend idle in the car.
  • If you feel that you are being followed, walk and run quickly to a lighted area, such as a store, or where crowds of people can offer help if needed.  Know where to go for help-police station or fire house.  Do not go home.
  • If you carry a purse or your computer bag, do not dangle it by your side so that a thief can run by you and grab it.  Carry your purse or bag close to your body, preferably in the front.
  • Keep your car in good mechanical condition to prevent car trouble.  Keep the tank filled with sufficient gas.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money and unnecessary credit cards.  Consider keeping ten (10) or fifteen (15) dollars in your wallet or purse to throw to the ground to initiate an escape.

Emergency Evacuation Tips

  • Once you arrive to a facility, be familiarized with the building layout and aware of the fire exits that shall be clearly marked.
  • Never ignore an alarm, assume the alarm is false, ort assume it is only a fire alarm test.
  • Once you hear the fire alarm, leave the area immediately, but do not run.  Proceed to assembly area or outside the building.
  • Do not use elevators. 
  • Everyone must evacuate the building by way of the safest and closest exit and/or stairway. 
  • Once outside the building, move away from the building.  Assemble across the street or along the sidewalk of the adjacent building.
  • The front of the building is where firefighters and for trucks will be operating.  Do not obstruct their access to the building.
  • If there is an incident occurring on the upper floors and glass is being blown out of the windows, the area below is the hazard zone where serious personal injuries will happen.  Stay away from this hazard zone.
  • Follow the instructions provided by police or firefighters.
  • Do not re-enter the building until clearance is provided.

Injury on Duty

Any employee who sustains a work related injury must report the injury to their supervisor and the Safety Office immediately but no later than 48 hours from the time of the incident.  The Safety Office will assist with the completion of injury reports; provide referral for medical treatment with City-contracted care providers and report the injury to Comp Services, Inc. 


If Emergency Treatment is Required

Any employee that requires emergency treatment may be taken to the nearest Emergency Room.  The Safety Office must be notified so that the appropriate injury report(s) and follow up treatment can be arranged with the City’s Contracted provider. 


Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA)

Any employee involved in a MVA, including crashes, accidents or incidents involving a city-owned, leased or personal vehicle used for City-related business, is required to follow the Safety Directive #P-2:  Vehicle Crash Reporting Procedure.  Based on this procedure, accidents must be reported immediately to the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD), Risk Management Division, Office of Fleet Management and the employee’s direct supervisor (link to Safety Directive P-2 and City Vehicle Crash Report Form.  A completed copy of the report should be submitted within twenty-four (24) hours but no later than forty-eight (48) hours to:  the Safety Office, Crash Review Officer, Office of Fleet Management (except personal vehicles used for City-related business) and Risk Management Division.  Employee will be referred to the City’s contracted care provider for a medical evaluation whether or not employee claims an injury. 


Workplace Violence

If an employee is victim of assault, threat or harassment, they must contact her/his direct supervisor and the Safety Office.   If an immediate threat exists, the police must be contacted immediately (Link to Workplace Violence Policy).


Copyright 2018 by Department of Human Services