Health and Safety at Work
Employees working from home have a responsibility to take reasonable care of themselves and other people who may be affected by the work you are doing.
However, responsibility for health and safety at work rests ultimately with the employer even when the employee is working from home. Employers have a duty of care to all employees and employer must – in so far as is reasonably practicable ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all employees.
Employers must carry out a Risk Assessment of the place of work and should consult with their employees to assure themselves:
- that the employee is aware of any specific risks regarding working from home,
- that the work activity and the temporary workspace are suitable,
- that they provide suitable equipment to enable the work to be done, and
- that there is a pre-arranged means of contact.
Ask for a Photo of the Workspace?
As an alternative to inspecting a home office – which may be considered an intrusion into the employee’s privacy and which is certainly not practicable under current circumstances, employers may ask the employee to send them photographs of the home office set up to ensure that the space is suitable for home based work.
The Check List
It is also prudent to ask employees to complete a checklist to establish the suitability of the home workspace.
The Health and Safety Authority recommends that the employer checks out the following issues with home-based employees:
- Do you have a suitable space to work from temporarily?
- Can you access the workspace easily and safely?
- Is there adequate light, ventilation and heat to allow you to work comfortably?
- Is there enough space to allow you to work without twisting, bending, or sitting/standing awkwardly?
- Is there enough workspace to accommodate the equipment or other materials needed for the activity?
- Is the floor clear and dry, e.g., kept clear of electrical cables or anything else you could trip over / slip on?
- Is the workspace free of clutter?
- Are electrical sockets, plugs and cords in good condition e.g. no charring, exposed wiring or frayed cables?
Update Your Safety Statement
Bear in mind also that your Safety Statement should be updated to include the home-based work scenario. +For further information on Safety Statements, you should check out the Health and Safety Authority website. It’s a rich and reliable source of information from the Government agency.
Amend the Contract of Employment
A further reminder – you should, agree the terms of the home-based Contracts of Employment with your employees. Please see more here.
Check/Update Your Insurance Cover
As an employer/manager of home based workers, you will need to ensure that:
Your Employer’s Liability Insurance includes adequate cover for employees working off site
The any of your equipment which employees have brought to a home office are covered in transit and when off site.
I hope that you find this content informative and useful. Please feel free to contact me with your comments or for further information.