Working From Home Health & Safety

  • Health & Safety
A woman at a desk working from home
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Working from home can improve productivity and work-life balance. Read about the Health & Safety requirements for working from home. And how you can keep remote workers safe from occupational risks.

Through economic changes, many companies across the globe have chosen to incorporate remote working methods into their business. Employees have acclimatised to working from home, creating hybrid office setups within their residence.

Employees can easily designate a space in their homes to host virtual meetings and conferences - mirroring their previous workplace. The recent introduction of better communication innovations and social isolation rules due to Covid-19, we have all drastically shown the capability of working remotely.

However, employers must be reminded of their Health & Safety responsibilities for their workers. Whether employees work onsite or offsite, you must manage any potential risks that could inflict them at home.

In this guide, we will show you the importance of working from home Health & Safety. And touch on the key factors that flexible working conditions bring whilst working remotely.

What is working from home Health & Safety?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999), employers have a legal duty of care for all employees under their management, even remote workers.

Working from home may provide more work-flexibility and improve performance but it does have its own challenges. Health & Safety for working from home risks can range from loneliness issues to lack of control over working environments.

Most employees who work from home generally:

  • Work remotely from a location outside of the workplace.
  • Work without direct supervision.
  • Perform work tasks separate from their colleagues.

We can classify remote workers as either temporary home workers or long-term home workers. A temporary home worker faces lower risks whilst working from home. So, they don’t require an extensive Health & Safety risk assessment. A long-term home worker requires their employer to carry out all Health & Safety risk assessments necessary.

Employers should provide advice to all remote employees on how to complete their own basic workstation checklist.

Show them how to follow working from home guidelines and how to complete Health & Safety risk assessment templates. Help them document their home workstation setup and control risk measures.

How do I protect home workers’ Health & Safety?

In recent years, we have grown accustomed to:

  • Working in more comfortable environments, and;
  • Work through technological innovations.

The recent changes to our work activities has proven to increase work performance and efficiency.

However, complying with home office Health & Safety regulations can prove difficult. A working from home risk assessment template can help employers identify and control risks for those who work from home regularly. A working from home checklist  can help identify:

  • How to keep regular communication.
  • What type of tasks to set?
  • Whether someone can perform their tasks safely.
  • Any control measures needed to protect remote workers.

Health & Safety requirements for working from home

Employers can legally comply with Health & Safety requirements by documenting and controlling working from home risks.

Some risks can directly affect the physical and mental state of workers. Risks can also come from equipment use, work setup, and even from environmental factors, like isolation and loneliness.

Display screen equipment

Most employees perform work tasks using computers, laptops, smartphones, and other screen-facing devices. You can monitor and reduce display screen equipment risks by:

  • Taking regular breaks by shortening DSE work periods (five minutes every hour).
  • Ensuring staff work from a suitable position.
  • Avoiding awkward or static working postures by regularly changing your position.
  • Reducing eye fatigue by blinking more and changing your focus.
  • Reporting any aches or discomforting pains that relate to DSE work setup.
  • Reporting any other adverse effects discovered from working at home.

Employers can also help staff work comfortably by providing ergonomic equipment like:

  • Computer monitors.
  • Computer mice.
  • Support cushions.
  • Ergonomic chairs.
  • Height-adjustable desks.

Lone working

Employers are legally obliged to care for the welfare of all employees, especially vulnerable ones like lone workers.

You should keep regular and open channels of communication with them. As this will help ensure they are working safely and are comfortable sharing any problems they face.

Failure to monitor the welfare risks of lone workers can lead to:

  • An increase in stress and effects on mental health.
  • Further feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Escalated detachment from their workplace and colleagues.
  • Being medical unable to work alone.

Mental health and stress

For some remote employees, working from home can cause several effects on a person's mental health. The measures for stress at work can range from:

  • Work-related stress.
  • Social anxiety.
  • Burnout.
  • An intense sense of guilt.

Treat stress and mental health issues the same for remote workers as you would for other workers. You should try to spot early signs of stress and provide workers with appropriate support.

If communication is weak, remote workers can often feel abandoned and helpless. Which can affect their work performance and potentially their mental health state.

You should also seek medical advice if you are unsure whether an employee can safely work alongside a mental health condition.

Meeting health, safety and welfare standards

As an employer, you should take care in safeguarding the wellbeing of your employees transitioning to working remotely.

We are in a time where our work-life and personal-life are entwined, according to CIPD. Here are five methods which businesses can utilise to make a success of remote working.

Open conversations about wellbeing

Employers should create a welfare policy where talking about employee wellbeing is normalised.

Ensure that they can talk comfortably about adapting to their new working environment, and other issues that are not work-related. 

Set boundaries to prevent overworking

Working from home can cause employees to relax working hours. Which can cause employees blur time frames, overwork and skip breaks.

Employers should create set schedules for workloads and monitor them across their teams. Try to notice early signs of overworking and take breaks during long video-call meetings.

Clear task objectives

As we’ve become accustomed to remote working, our working methods have also adapted. Employers should set clear aims and objectives for what they expect for projects and productions outcomes.

Clearly communicating methods will help everyone stay on the same page and highlight what tasks need more assistance or time to complete.

Schedule face-to-face time

Working remotely over long periods of time can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. So, try to recreate a similar level of engagement that employees were used to.

Build personal and team relationships online, and schedule regular face-to-face time when legally acceptable. Organise online team meetings, socials, and networking events on a broader organisational level.

Support network

Some workers will always be at an automatic disadvantage when working from home. It could be their first time working remotely. Maybe they’re a new starter or just aren’t that tech-savvy.

It’s important to meet their individual needs by providing additional information, training, and support. Figuring out what work requirements employees need can help with business production, project efficiency, and provide opportunities for development.

Peninsula offers expert advice for working from home Health & Safety

In recent times, businesses have discovered the values for virtual working. It’s clear that remote workers benefit from having a better work-life balance, zero-commuting strains, and flexible working conditions. Employers also profit from staff wellbeing and business productivity - flaunting a ‘business as usual’ attitude.

However, it’s important to adhere to working from home occupational Health & Safety. You are still liable for potential accidents or injuries that your remote workers face.

Peninsula offers expert employment Health & Safety advice and can help you create a working from home risk assessment template, perfect for your business. We also provide appropriate information, supervision, and training on how to control safety risks whilst working from home.

Peninsula clients also get access to 24/7 HR consultation on safe working requirements. And if you are not yet a client, you can still enjoy free advice from one of our business specialists. Simply call us on 0800 158 2313.


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