Health & Safety – A timely reminder for employers with an agile workforce

As hybrid working has now become the new “norm” in many businesses across the Country, employers need to be mindful of their responsibility to ensure the health and safety of staff who work from home just as much as any other worker.

As such, it is imperative that employers consider the following basic steps in order to remain compliant with the law;

  • Risk assessment - This must be extended to specifically include home workers. Whilst you should make sure they have a safe environment to work in, it is unlikely that you will need to visit their home. 

  • Talk to your home workers - Keep in regular contact with your home workers, as a team and one to one. You may also need to review how the work is done to reduce any potential causes of stress. 

  • Work/life balance - Those working at home can sometimes work longer hours, making them tired and stressed. Speak regularly about workloads, demands, and training needs. Encourage home workers take regular breaks and use their annual leave. 

  • DSE assessment - You must protect your workers from risks that arise from working on a computer or laptop (display screen equipment or “DSE”) at home. They can complete their own self-assessment provided they have been given suitable training and guidance. Employers should review these assessments so as to ensure that home workers can achieve a comfortable posture with DSE and also ensure that any equipment provided is safe and suitable for use. 

  • Electrical equipment - Ask your workers to visually check for any damage to sockets, plugs, or leads used in connection with their work. Give them advice on the hazards of overloaded extension cables. Whilst you are only responsible for electrical equipment you have provided to your workers, you should make sure it is being used in a safe environment. 

  • Slips and trips - Provide advice on how to minimise the risks of slips and trips by keeping their work area clear of obstructions, spillages, and trailing wires. 

  • Emergencies - Ensure your workers know what to do in an emergency. Any guidance should include details on how and when home workers should contact you, including details of any emergency contact numbers. Also consider what you would do if you could not get in contact with a home worker, such as holding emergency contact details. 

  • Lone working - By its nature, there will often be increased risks for those working alone with no direct supervision or anyone to help if things go wrong. This should be considered as part of your risk assessment. 

  • Reporting accidents for home workers - Not every accident in a person's home will be reportable under RIDDOR. This will only apply if, from the start, the accident occurred as a result of the work activity being done or the equipment you have provided to carry out that work.

 Contact our Compliance & Regulatory team today if you require advice regarding any of these points or indeed any other issue concerning health & safety in the workplace.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.