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Health and Safety when working at home- things to consider as an employer.

Posted: 07 March 2023

With an increase in flexible working, it is important to understand the risk to health and safety associated with working from home.

Employers have the same responsibilities for people working at home as any other worker. This applies to those who work at home long term or who split their time between working at home and their place of work – hybrid working.

Working from home

Risk assessment

Your risk assessment should include home workers and as an employer you should consider the stress and mental health, use of equipment and work environment for home workers.

You should take a reasonable approach for home workers. A visit to a worker’s home address will not always be appropriate. However, it may it may be necessary when a worker has special requirements, or the work activity is particularly hazardous.

When conducting a risk assessment, you should consider how you will stay in contact with home workers.  As well as the type of work they will be doing, and the way in which the type of work can be conducted in a safe manner and if any controls are needed to ensure this.  Practical solutions may include providing advice and/ or guidance, using self-assessment tools and staying in contact with home workers. Any measures taken must not be done at the expense of the worker.

Stress and mental health

A risk assessment should be conducted to protect workers from stress. Home workers will experience many of the same stresses as those working within the workplace.  Despite that it can be more difficult to express concerns to employers, and for employers to support employees when they are working from home. Working from home can lead to workers feeling isolated or disconnected causing additional strain on mental health.

What can you do as an employer

There are things you can do as an employer to manage your employees’ risk of stress and detrimental mental health. Risk can be managed and monitored by talking openly about the risk of stress and effects on mental health. Plus, keeping them updated so that they do not feel left out. Make sure you keep in touch, and have regular catch ups with them. Always take into account each individual needs and the reason someone may need to or prefer to work from home and ensure they still feel supported even when working from home.

It may be difficult for an employer to recognise that an employee is experiencing stress or poor mental health when they are working from home. Therefore, it is important to maintain regular contact to monitor this.

Often working from home brings longer hours, starting earlier and/or finishing later because they don’t have a commute and can lose track of the time. As an employer you should encourage employees to take breaks away from their work, ensure they take a lunch break and make use of their annual leave.

Use of equipment

Where display screen equipment is used at home, you must protect your employees against risks to their health and safety.

A DSE assessment should ensure home workers have a comfortable, sustainable posture while working with DSE and should ensure any equipment provided is safe and suitable for purpose. DSE assessment should ensure furniture used to work at home is suitable and sufficient.

You should reduce any risks identified so far as reasonably practicable.

Work environment

Workers should have a safe space to work at home and employers must take reasonable steps to ensure this.

To ensure workers have a safe place to work you may take steps to ask workers to visibly check sockets, plugs and leads for damage and advise them of the dangers associated with electrical equipment. Provide advice on risk of slips and trips and keeping areas clear and ensure workers know what to do in the case of an emergency.

Where an incident occurs and is reportable under RIDDOR you have the same duties and responsibilities for homework as you do for anyone else.

If you have any questions on your duties as an employer and how to support your workers whilst they work from home, or if an incident has occurred and you need advice. Please get in touch with our regulatory advisory team on 01245 493 959 or send us an email.

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