Homeworkers’ Safety: Health and Safety Considerations for Employees Working from Home
Employees are seeking flexibility in their working arrangements, and most have settled to working remotely. Today, working from home has become more manageable, thanks to the advancements in technology. This is also expected to increase rapidly in the coming years. However, health and safety when working from home is hardly given the attention it deserves. In fact, most homeworkers are unaware or negligent of their health and safety. They might also set up their workstation incorrectly, and this could be a big risk both to them and the people around them.
Homeworkers’ health and safety is paramount, right from the equipment they’re using to the work environment. Unfortunately, it can be quite challenging for an employer to have full control over the health and safety of an employee not in the employer’s premises. But there are practical steps that you can take to minimise the risks of harm the employee could face while working remotely.
For Multiple Employees
It’s your duty to ensure your employees working from home are fully aware of how to work safely without risks to their health. You need to provide your homeworkers with:
● Relevant information explaining in detail all the risks and hazards they’ll be facing, measures to control the risks, and emergency and rescue procedures to follow.
● Clear instructions indicating what they’re expected to do.
● Relevant and effective health and safety training provided by a qualified health and safety officer.
● Appropriate supervision especially for new, young, and inexperienced employees.
Most work at home projects are usually low-risk, and some employers tend to assume the need for proper health and safety measures. It’s essential that the employer discusses their respective health and safety obligations with the employee before allowing the employee to work from home. Proper safety equipment should also be provided to the employee. For instance, as Christmas is fast approaching, most homeowners will install Christmas trees and lights, with most of them installed at a height. Safety ladders will be an essential tool during the installation and uninstallation of these items.
For Lone Workers
Working alone is deemed to be safer. But it’s important to identify and eliminate any health and safety risks before allowing any employee to work. This is a bit different from establishing a health and safety safe working environment for more than one employee. Some of the measures you can take to ensure they’re not put at risk include:
● Assessing the medical suitability of the employee to work alone and if there’s an alarming risk in the workplace.
● Ensuring you’re aware of what’s happening - have systems in place to keep in touch with the employee.
● Ensuring the employee receives proper training and has the necessary experience to work on the project.
What to Look for During Risk Assessment
Conducting a home workplace risk assessment is vital to determine if the environment is suitable in its present state or if there are adjustments to be made. Ensure to assess the:
● Cords and electrical safety,
● Isolation of the proposed workstation from other distractions,
● Suitable first aid kits, fire safety equipment, and emergency procedures,
● Suitability of equipment to be used,
● Ergonomics of the proposed workstation,
● Presence of any other significant risks, and
● Plans to protect the personal security of the employee.