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Vol. LXVII, No. 21
October 9, 2015

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Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.

Feedback: I recently completed a telework application and had to fill out a “home office evaluation” form that asked a lot of questions about my home work area. For example, I am apparently required to have hot and cold running water in the bathroom at home but the restrooms in my NIH building only have cold running water, no hot water and I can’t even adjust the flow of the water. My home location is supposed to be asbestos-free but my NIH office has an asbestos ceiling. My home office furniture is supposed to be ergonomically correct but my NIH office is furnished with hand-me-down furniture that is certainly not ergonomically correct based on the neck and back pain I have at the end of the day. I am required to have supplies and resources close to my home office desk but many times I don’t even have supplies for my work office because of budget issues. Air quality and ventilation at home is supposed to be adequate but the heating and cooling system in my NIH office rarely works and black grit comes out of the vents. Why does NIH have a higher standard for my telework location than provided for my NIH on-site location?

Response from Office of Research Services, the Office of Human Resources and the Office of Research Facilities: Thank you for your question about the telework safety evaluation form. Whether an employee is working at the official duty station or an alternate worksite, safety is an important matter. Teleworkers are responsible for ensuring that a workspace in their home is free of health and safety hazards. The form, whose content was developed with input from OSHA, is intended to help increase employees’ awareness of safety considerations. It also helps supervisors and other telework-approving officials assess whether an alternate worksite will be conducive to performing work. The form is currently under revision to narrow the focus to the area in the residence that may be used for telework. OHR anticipates the final document to be more aligned with the updated checklist on the Office of Personnel Management’s telework web site,

As for your NIH work environment, you should contact the Office of Research Services’ Division of Occupational Health and Safety at (301) 496-3353 to schedule an ergonomic evaluation or (301) 496- 2960 to report safety-related issues. You should also report any facility-related issues to the Office of Research Facilities by calling (301) 435-8000 or submit a maintenance request online at http://1. Additionally, regarding the Office of Research Facilities, there is an Issue escalation process described at should you need to escalate a chronic maintenance problem to the attention of an ORF manager.

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