Risk Assessments needed for remote workers
Risk Assessments needed for remote workers
Many companies have now been working from home for over a year. It is both surprising and worrying to learn that some have still not conducted risk assessments for their employee’s remote workstations. A study from National Accident Helpline found that a shocking 20% were still yet to receive any guidance from their employer. Employers could face legal repercussions if they fail to protect their employees’ health and safety whilst remotely working. With this way of working set to stay for many of us, it is imperative that employers conduct these risk assessments if they haven’t already done so. The Workplace (Health, Safety, and Welfare) Regulations 1992 may apply to those who are remotely working for an extended period of time. It is important to recognise this, understand the regulations in place, and ensure that your company is abiding by the regulations.
No proper workstation
Many employees lack a proper working station and/or suitable equipment within their homes. Employees may not have the advantage of having an office space at home to work from. Instead, they work from other rooms within their homes such as the kitchen, living room, bedroom, and even the hallway! These rooms create additional risks that both the employer and employee need to consider.
In addition to this, employees may lack office equipment that is adequate for a full day of work. Whilst some employees may be lucky enough to be supplied with home office equipment (desk, desk chair, computer monitor, etc.) from their employers or are able to afford to purchase it for themselves, this is not the case for everyone. Without adequate office equipment or a lack of understanding on how to set up a suitable home-working station, employees are more likely to experience injuries. It is important to stay in line with the Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations. You should conduct a DSE workstation assessment if your staff are homeworking for an extended period of time. The incorrect use of DSE or poorly designed workstations/work environments can lead to pain in necks, shoulders, backs, arms, wrists, and hands as well as fatigue and eye strain.
Most common working from home injuries include
- Back pain (27%)
- Eye strain (18%)
- Neck pain (17%)
- Repetitive strain injury (10%)
Whilst it is a surprise to some, injuries from working at home could still fall under ‘workplace injury’. If the injury is caused whilst working, regardless of whether it was done at home or in the office it may fall under ‘workplace injury’. This is because employers still have a responsibility to prevent these types of injuries. If preventative measures have not been taken employers could face legal repercussions.
Employers need to not only consider physical risks of working from home but psychological risks too. Increased working from home could worsen employees’ mental health. Employees are likely to feel increasingly isolated due to limited contact with colleagues or line managers.
Employers have a responsibility to conduct risk assessments on their employees’ workstations. Therefore, they will need to do this even when working from home. It is expected that the employee takes control of their Health and Safety whilst at home. They should make their employer aware of any concerns or dangers of their remote working situation.
Risk Assessments should include for everyone:
- The work being done
- The hours spent working
- Equipment that is being used
Relevant personal characteristics will also need to be factored into this. These include:
HR’s Role and Communication
It is important to avoid a situation where no one is taking charge of the Health & Safety within your company. Ensure both you and your employees are aware of who is responsible for managing Health & Safety.
Communication with employees is crucial. This works both ways, both employees and employers should communicate with one another to help mitigate the risks. For example, employers are reliant on employees highlighting and communicating any risks they have identified. Employers should communicate to their employees the full range of risks in a home working environment and how to address them.
In addition, as an employer, you should make sure that:
- Employees know how to report accidents and injuries if they occur when working from home
- The support that is available and how staff can access this – especially important for mental health support
- If able to provide suitable equipment that will help improve remote working
Even if you are unable to provide additional equipment, employers still have a duty of care to ensure a suitable risk assessment has been conducted for any employee working from home on a long-term basis.
Impact on the business
Failure to consider the risks can cause negative impacts for the business as well as the risk of injury. These include:
- Strain or breakdown of the relationship between worker and company
- Reduced productivity
- Lost time from an absence
Talk to our Health & Safety expert at HPC for advice on risk assessments and other Health & Safety concerns. The support we offer can give you peace of mind that not only yourself and your employees are working in a safe environment, but you are also safe from claims.
If you have any concerns or would like to discuss anything further, please get in contact with the HPC team today
T: 0844 800 5932