In the current crisis caused by the Covid 19 virus, many people are being
asked to work from home. As an employer you are still required to look
after the health and safety of your employees when they are working from
home, whether it is a temporary situation or a regular one. As this
situation has arisen very quickly, it is unlikely you will have had a
chance to properly consider any health and safety issues your homeworking
staff may face.
You will need to consider such things as:
How will you keep in touch with them?
What work activity will they be doing?
Can it be done safely?
Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?
Using IT Equipment
Generally speaking, there is no increased risk from display screen
equipment (DSE) for those working at home temporarily, so there is no
specific requirement to do a DSE assessment on the home ‘workstation’.
However, domestic tables and chairs are often not at the correct height to
work for long periods using a computer, and using a laptop or tablet while
sitting in a lounge chair/settee etc. can create neck and shoulder strain.
Consider the following:
- Breaking up long spells of DSE work with rest breaks (at least 5
minutes or changes in activity.
Avoiding awkward, static postures by regularly changing position.
Getting up and moving or doing stretching exercises.
Avoiding eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time.
If it appears staff may need to work from home for an extended period of
time, you should consider allowing staff to take some equipment home. This
may include specialised keyboards or mice or possibly monitor risers and
desk lamps. It may also be necessary to supply the homeworking employee
with cushions to support them or even ergonomic chairs to use at home.
Homeworking and Stress
It is suggested that you should create good lines of communication between
staff members and any central office. There are many video-conferencing
platforms available now, many of which are free to use.
There will always be greater risks for lone workers with no direct
supervision and no one to help them if things go wrong. Home working can
cause work-related stress and affect people’s mental health, as being away
from colleagues can make it difficult to get proper support.
It is important to make sure you keep in touch with your staff working from
home, if contact is poor, staff may feel disconnected, isolated or
abandoned. This can affect their mental health, but will also adversely
affect their ability to work.
Put procedures in place so you can keep in direct contact with home
workers and this should assist you in recognising any signs of stress
as early as possible. It is also important to have an emergency point
of contact and to share this so that people know how to get help if
they need it.
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute
legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific