New Advice On Homeworking

As part of its response, the Health and Safety Executive has just (9thFeb) issued revised guidance (IND226)on home working. It says that where the type of work carried out at home is deemed ‘low risk’ – office-type work – the employer will only be responsible for the equipment it supplies.

The guidance goes on to say that work activities at home involving more risk – manual work or working with, for example, adhesives or soldering – will need much greater assessment of the risks involved. Here, any equipment supplied by the employer must be in good condition and properly maintained. Furthermore, correct personal protective equipment must be supplied if required.

Following publication of this guidance HSE may well have less interest in home working activities than before – not that it was much in the first place! However any prudent employer will still need to satisfy itself that the risk of the activity being carried out at home is ‘low’ in order to benefit from the “relaxation of the rules” and to ensure that they meet their common law duty of care to their employees.

Despite the apparent easing of the rules the HSE advises employers that in order to satisfy themselves that the activity being performed by the employee is low risk, they must review the situation carefully and continue to keep records of how they risk-assess home working, because failure to do so may leave them exposed. In every case, says the guidance, where the use of display screen equipment is required, risk assessments will still be required for all home workers.

This new advice is more about politics and appearance rather than real change. It merely sets out the sensible and reasonably practicable approach that any qualified and competent health and safety professional would advocate. Our Guidance Note 1-18 does not require change.