The current pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the vast majority, if not all of our daily lives in terms of both our working and personal circumstances.
Employer’s have the same health and safety responsibilities and duties to their employees who are working from home as they do for any other employees working from the workplace, site or business.
Where you have employees permanently working from home you will need to consider the following which will then tailor your approach with regards to what steps you will need to take for those employees:-
How you will keep in contact with your employees
What work activities they will be doing (and for how long)?
Can it be done safely?
Whether you need to put in place control measures to protect those employees.
Duty to undertake a workstation risk assessment
Where an employee is permanently working from home you will need to undertake a workstation risk assessment as you would for any employee working from the workplace.
You may need to undertake this assessment yourself by visiting the employee’s home, or work closely with that employee to assist them to undertake the workstation assessment themselves.
Employers should in any event provide guidance to all employees with regards to how to carry out workstation assessments to enable them to monitor their workstation and prevent any impact either physically or mentally as a result of their workstation set up.
When undertaking a workstation assessment, this assessment should take into account amongst other things:
the risk associated with using display screen equipment;
the seating layout of the furniture and equipment;
making sure that the electrical equipment has been tested and certified;
the placement of cables and extension leads; and
the room conditions including sufficient lighting, ventilation and appropriate room temperature.
The health and safety executive has provided specific guidance with regard to setting up a workstation and further information can be found https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.htm.
In essence however, simple steps such as breaking up long spells of work in front of a monitor with rest breaks (at least 5 minutes in every hour) or changes in activity; avoiding awkward or static postures by changing position; getting up and moving about; and avoiding eye fatigue by changing focus and blinking is recommended.
Mental Health and communication
It is of paramount importance that you keep in touch with employees who are working from home. Employees in this situation have a higher risk of feeling isolated, abandoned and disconnected because of their working arrangements which can be detrimental to their mental health.
It is therefore important that your homeworking risk assessment also factors into account the impact of homeworking upon an employee’s mental health.
You should put in place a system of communication for those employees that are working from home, and ensure that they are aware of an appropriate point of contact should they have any difficulties.
Provision of equipment
Where possible, employers should try to meet any home working equipment needs such as providing computers, laptops, keyboards, ergonomic chairs or supporting cushions, and certainly should you be made aware that your employee has reported any physical or mental symptoms related to their home working, employers should assess whether any further support can be provided.
Should you have any queries about employees working from home either on a temporary or permanent basis, please do get in contact with the team at Prettys on 01473 232121.