Working from home risk assessment

More and more people have been working from home in recent times. Whether it’s from an office space, the dining-room table, or a desk in the spare room, we class these workers as lone workers. This means they work remotely, without direct supervision, and perform work tasks separate from their colleagues.

Almost 46.6% of UK employees worked from home in 2020. As an employer, you are required to apply the same health and safety responsibilities for a home worker, as you would do for any other worker. 

There are many positive aspects to why remote working is good for your business. However, employers should perform health and safety risk assessments for employees who work from home.

Read about what considerations you’ll need for a working from home risk assessment template. And how these occupational health risk assessments are key factors for employee welfare.

What is a working from home risk assessment template?

Working from home has grown drastically, as we have come accustomed to using better technological methods. We have increasingly utilised using equipment like laptops, tablets, and smartphones for working.

This gives remote workers more flexibility to work and improve their work efficiency. But it can also bring its own problems, like health and safety risks, isolation issues and a lack of control on working environments.

A working from home risk assessment template can help employers control safety measures for their staff who work from home regularly.

When an employer is working at home, consider a working from home risk assessment checklist:

  • How do you keep regular communication?
  • What tasks will be set from them? And for how long?
  • Can the tasks be performed safely?
  • What control measures are needed to protect them whilst working?

Lone working without supervision

It’s not always easy to control safety risks that could affect lone workers. When they don’t have access to direct supervision, it’s more likely that workers will meet additional problems.

You should keep regular communication with lone workers, making sure that they are safe and healthy.

Failure to keep regular contact with lone workers can cause them to feel isolated, abandoned, and detached from their team.

Find out more about lone working here.

Working with display screen equipment

It’s highly likely that remote employees use computers and other screen-facing devices when working from home. The health and safety risks that can occur with display screen equipment (DSE) should be monitored and controlled. 

There is very little evidence to show greater DSE risks for employees who temporarily work from home. In these situations, employers aren’t required to ask their workers to carry out DSE risk assessments on their work-setup at home.

Instead, advise your employers on how to complete a basic lone worker risk assessment for working from home. Here are a few measures you can take to reduce display screen work risks:

  • Split up long periods of DSE work by taking breaks or changing activities. (Take rest breaks for at least five minutes every hour).
  • Avoid awkward or static working postures by changing your position regularly.
  • Do stretching exercises and move around more regularly.
  • Reduce eye fatigue by blinking more and changing your focus.

Ergonomic equipment

Employers can provide specialist DSE equipment for workers to help with their working needs. This can include allowing workers to take equipment home, like keyboards, mouse, risers, etc.

For those used to larger equipment (like ergonomic chairs, height-adjustable desks), you should encourage workers to recreate a comfortable working environment (by using support cushions, etc).

Review DSE arrangements

While employees continue to work from home, you should keep regular communication with them. This will set additional steps to help reduce health and safety risks. Employees should report:

  • Aches or discomfort pains that relate to their DSE work-setup.
  • Any adverse effects discovered from working at home.
  • Working for longer hours without regular rest breaks.

Find out more about display screen working here.

Mental health and stress

For some employees, working from home can have all sorts of effects on a person’s mental health. These can range from:

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

Despite working in isolation or away from colleagues, you should still provide your workers with appropriate support and welfare considerations – just like you would do in the office.

Open communication 

You should place wellbeing procedures where regular communication between you and remote workers is upheld. Even a five-minute morning meeting with lone workers can help deal with issues of isolation and separation.

As an employer, you should be able to recognise signs of stress and loneliness as early as possible. It’s also advised to have an emergency point of contact for employees working from home. This is to ensure that they know the right methods for getting help when they need it.

Find out more about mental health and stress here.

Download our working from home risk assessment template

Whether your employees work in the office or work from home, they are still under your management and care. You should ensure that they carry out their work safely and without any risks to their health, throughout their entire working career.

Make sure you work to the standards of your health and safety policy for remote workers.  And carry out working from home risk assessments, with follow-ups reports for any incidents that may occur.

Peninsula can offers you expert employment health and safety advice and help create a working from home risk assessment template perfect for your business. We can also introduce safety training that can benefit you and your workers.

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 028 2420.

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