Working from home: Top health & safety considerations

Stephanie Byrne-Roche

October 20 2020

With Level 5 of the Living with COVID-19 Plan in place until the end of November, many employees who had been back on site are now once again working from home. 

If you’ve set your employees up to work from home, it’s important to consider your health & safety obligations. After all, the same workplace health & safety rules apply to an employee’s home office.

Here, we look at the most pressing health & safety considerations when working from home.  

Health & safety risks when working from home

There’s no doubt about it, working from home has played an important role in the country’s fight against COVID-19.

Ireland’s health & safety legislation requires you, the employer, to ensure employee safety as far as is reasonably practicable while they’re at work.

What you might not be aware of is that if your employees are working from home, the home becomes a workplace. So, you must therefore take action to ensure your employees work in a safe environment while working from home.

Assess your employees’ home office design

A wise move as your employees switch to working from home is to assess their home office, or workstation, design. Doing so will reduce the risk of injury and show you complied with your obligations under the health & safety legislation. This process should also include feedback from the employee.

Some questions to consider as part of this process are:

  • Are there particular hazards in the home?
  • Is there a suitable home office desk, chair, and screen?
  • Is the room well ventilated and bright enough to complete the type of work being carried out?
  • Have cables or other trip hazards been identified?

You will also have to consider the needs vulnerable staff may have during this risk assessment. Older workers, pregnant workers, and workers with underlying medical conditions must be carefully considered. Employees who live alone may need help with minimising lone worker risks.

Your health & safety policy

Reminding employees of their duty to protect their own safety while at work can be done by issuing or reissuing your health & safety policy.

Claims based on health & safety breaches are often accompanied by personal injury actions and represent a significant financial and reputational risk for employers.

To defend such claims, you must be able to show that you’ve taken reasonable steps and consulted with employees on appropriate ways to mitigate workplace risks.

Employee wellbeing

A side to working from home which is just as important as physical health and safety is employee wellbeing.

Working time, anxiety, and stress are three prevalent employee issues when working from home. Keeping in contact with your employees and encouraging them to stay in touch with their colleagues will help maintain.

A useful tool when it comes to employee issues is an Employee Assistance Programme. This work-based support service provides independent counselling for employees who have personal concerns that they don’t want to raise directly with you. In a time of great change, this individual support could prove invaluable to your employees.  

Need our help?

If you’re a Peninsula client, you can call our 24/7 helpline for instant, unlimited advice on remote working.

But if you’re not a client?

No problem. You can still claim a free advice call with one of our experts today.

To speak to an expert now and get the latest guidance on remote working, call 0818 923 923.

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