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How to manage Health and Safety for employees working from home

Since the pandemic, working from home has become the norm for many of us. Before COVID 19, the official figures suggested that only 2.5% of the workforce worked from home, that figure rose to 60% during the pandemic and now has settled down at around 25% of workers – many employees deciding that they preferred to work from home. 

But what a lot of people don’t know is that working from home still requires the same health and safety responsibilities as if everyone worked in the office.

Although a lot of the time, risks to home workers may be low which means that actions to be taken to protect them are straightforward. 

The government suggest that employers undertake risk assessments for home workers which include:

- Stress and poor mental health

- Safe equipment uses

- The working environment

 

Working from home and health and safety

To make sure all health and safety requirements are met a risk assessment must be undertaken before an employee starts working from home. 

These risk assessments include the following:

- Checking the work area including space, lighting, flooring, ventilation 

- Desk, chair, computer, and electrical installation

- Data security

- Relevant insurance 

This is done is required highlight at the onset any possible health and safety areas of concern whilst working from home. It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure all their employees have the appropriate equipment needed to effectively carry out their role, however, it is the employee’s responsibility to resolve any ‘home related’ issues that are highlighted from the assessment. 

 

What are the health and safety requirements for working from home?

If your business has 5 or more employees, it is a legal requirement to assess the risks to individuals working environment before employment begins and these findings must be documented. 

So, what exactly must be done? As employers, you must

  • Conduct risk assessments at the start of employment and if there are significant to be made in the home, these need to be reviewed annually. 
  • Adequate information, instructions, training and supervision on health and safety
  • Discuss how best risks are controlled with homeworkers
  • Remove risks around the home wherever possible

 

Key points for employers

We recommend that all employers ensure there is clear communication surrounding policies and procedures when working from home as this helps everyone understand their rights and responsibilities. 

It is also incredibly important that all employers talk to their workers about their arrangements because working from home may not be suitable for everyone for a variety of reasons such as not having an appropriate place to work within their home, or it could be that attending the workplace is better for employees’ wellbeing. 

Although most of the time the risks posed to home workers are low, the right actions must still be undertaken to protect workers.

 

Conclusion

A poll recently taken by ACAS has shown that more than half of employers expect that home and hybrid working is to rise. Research shows this is due to the reported lower levels of stress and the freedom afforded to those choosing this work style. 

However, due to the comfort of working from home many workers are working longer hours with little or no breaks. Due to this, we recommend that employers speak regularly to their staff to discuss their workload, job demands and training needs.  

The health and safety responsibilities for people working from home should be the same as any other workers. Make sure you have health and safety policies in place, and you have conducted the necessary assessments. 

 

If you need any help with the implementation of Health and Safety policies or have any questions surrounding this topic, please contact us at 01455 444222 or email us at info@hr4uk.com

 

 

 

 

Background links:

https://www.hse.gov.uk/home-working/index.htm

https://www.prowess.org.uk/health-safety-hazards-home-workers

https://www.acas.org.uk/working-from-home-and-hybrid-working