- Employers have health and safety responsibilities for home workers – here’s what you need to know.
Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind when it comes to work from home staff.
With the coronavirus pandemic seeing many staff working remotely when they’re usually in the workplace, some employers are encountering new ground.
Health and safety advice applies to work from home staff too, so the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has put together a guide on how to keep them safe. It says the key things to remember are how you’ll keep in touch with them, what activities you want them to be doing, and whether you need to put any controls in place to keep them safe while doing so.
Here’s what you need to know.
Those who are working from home can often feel isolated, especially if they’re left to get on with their work with little or no supervision. HSE warns that if contact is poor, workers can feel disconnected, isolated or abandoned, which can affect their stress levels and mental health.
It recommends simply keeping in touch and ensure regular contact is made to keep an eye on their well-being as well as their work.
Working with display screen equipment
There’s every chance staff could be working from home for the considerable future, so HSE recommends asking employees to complete a workstation assessment to make sure it’s fit for purpose.
There’s a checklist available to download here with recommendations for where their devices should be positioned, as well as advice to break up work with five minutes away from the screen every hour, regularly changing position, getting up and moving, and changing focus from time to time to avoid eye fatigue.
Providing extra equipment
Employers should liaise with staff to find out if there are any pieces of equipment they do not have access to, and if that is the case arranging for them to get them. For example, allowing employees to take a mouse or keyboard home from the office temporarily can save unnecessary expense on their part.
It recommends also helping to find alternate solutions for some larger items, such as using supporting cushions in place of an ergonomic chair.
Stress and mental health
HSE warns that working from home can be a cause of work-related stress and affect people’s mental health. Meanwhile, being away from managers and colleagues can make it difficult to raise issues and get support.
It recommends putting procedures in place to ensure there’s regular contact with staff so you can spot any early signs of stress, and make sure you have an emergency contact so employees know where to go if they need help.