Employers in both Ireland and the UK have specific duties to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all workers – even when employees are working remotely.

The outbreak of Covid-19 and the current campaign of self-isolation to stop it’s spread has led to a huge increase in working from home.

Employers are required to show the same duty of care for their employees when they are working off premises.

This covers the provision of supervision, training, education and the implementation of sufficient control measures to protect the homeworker. The employer has liability for an accident or injury of a homeworker.

Safe Team has created a home working risk assessment guide for your employees. The key areas covered are as follows:

Desk area

  • Employees must have an adequate working space from which to work comfortably.
  • There should be sufficient space beneath employees’ desks to allow them to stretch their legs.
  • All trailing electrical cables around the employees’ working areas must be safely secured.
  • Employers must ensure the working area is warm, well-lit and well-ventilated.

Display screen set-up

  • Ensure the desk chair is set up correctly to provide lower back support, armrests and allow feet to rest flat on the floor.
  • Ensure sufficient desk space to work comfortably at so as that the upper body is not twisted or strained when reaching for something.
  • Adjust display screen to eye level so as not to cause discomfort for the neck and head.
  • Avoid a glare from a window or light by positioning display screens accordingly, ensuring the employees do not strain their eyes.

Fire and electrical safety

  • Smoke detectors must be checked to ensure they are working correctly.
  • Regularly dispose of waste, including paper to prevent a build-up of ‘fire fuel’.
  • Remove from use, any electrical equipment that sparks or has burn marks.
  • Remove any damaged or frayed wires.
  • Regularly inspect equipment to check for signs of wear and tear.
  • Switch off equipment when not in use.
  • Have emergency arrangements in place in case of fire.

 Stress and welfare

  • Employees should take regular breaks from their workstations and stretch regularly to avoid still or sore muscles.
  • Employees should have provision to sit with good posture to avoid hunching over.
  • Ensure there is an adequate provision of first aid.
  • If workers regularly use a computer, it is recommended they have an annual eye test.

Manual Handling

  • Have all items for work within easy reach.
  • Store heavy items on lover shelves to avoid the need for lowering them.
  • Train all employees to correctly pick up, carry and lower heavy items.

Slips, trips and falls

  • Ensure floor coverings such as carpets and rugs are secure.
  • Clear stairways and corridors of trip hazards.
  • Employees must clear the floor area around their desk of boxes, papers and wires.
  • Extra caution should be advised to reduce trips if hot drinks and food are to be carried upstairs/downstairs.

Lone working

  • Employees must have a name and number of a manager or supervisor to get in touch with to report if an accident occurs.
  • Set up systems to regularly ‘check in’ with your employee if they are not visibly online each day.
  • Ensure your home is kept secure against intruders while employees are working there.
  • Keep important files and laptops secure when not in use.

Safe Team can offer practical advice and support to employers on best practices in health and safety. For more information, please contact us. NI/UK: +44 2871 271882 and Ireland: +353 1 695 0749.