The rapid change in working practice brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many sectors now having to manage a distant workforce, the Public Sector and Education sectors included.
Health & Safety Home Workers

It is important to recognise as an employer that you have the same health and safety responsibilities for homeworkers and the same liability for accident or injury as for any other workers.

This means you must provide supervision, education and training, as well as implementing enough control measures to protect the home worker.

If an employee is working from home, whether it is on a permanent or temporary basis, you should consider:

  • How will you maintain contact with employees?
  • What work activities will be taking place, and how long will they be doing these?
  • Can the work be done safely and compliantly?
  • Do you need to implement any control measures in order to protect staff?

The way you manage health and safety risks will depend on all these factors.

You need to consider risks associated with using computers and work equipment, stress, lone working, manual handling, fire and so on. The assessments need to take account of the specific work environment and needs of each employee, so a major consideration will be how you manage individual assessments for many remote workers over a wide geographic area.

You may need to train remote workers to carry out their own assessments, with the manager or trained assessor only becoming involved when there are specific problems that the remote worker can’t deal with.

Working with display screen equipment

For those people who are working at home, the risks associated with using display screen equipment (DSE) must be controlled. Workstation assessment must be undertaken for all who will be homeworking for a long period. Currently we cannot say how long home working will continue to be the only option for many. It is therefore prudent to introduce some simple steps to reduce the risks from display screen work for those temporarily working at home. These include:-

  • Regular breaks should be encouraged with employees taking at least 5 minutes break every hour
  • Static postures should be discouraged and employees should regularly change position
  • Employees should move around regularly or try stretching exercises
  • Eye fatigue can be avoided by changing focus and switching between tasks
  • Encourage workers to try other ways of creating a more comfortable working environment

Stress and Mental Health

Being away from managers and colleagues could make it difficult to get immediate support. This combined with isolation and having to merge a working life with home life may create increased stress for some.

  • Keep in touch: Put procedures in place so you can keep in direct contact with home workers so you can recognise signs of stress as early as possible. If possible, encourage teams to stay in touch. Use of social media to keep connected is being used widely, but, be careful. Make sure all understand your “social media’’ policy, some may forget they are in a work environment and conversations can become inappropriate very quickly.
  • Emergencies: It is also important to have an emergency point of contact and to share this so people know how to get help if they need it.
  • Risk Assessment: Checklists and/or interactive computer-based packages can lead inexperienced staff through the risk assessment process. Asking the remote worker to provide a plan or photo of the workstation can help the manager check that the assessment is adequate. Gallagher has a checklist which may help your teams assess their home work stations.

Would you like to talk?

For more information please contact your Gallagher representative, call 0800 6123 641.