The World health organisation has categorised the Coronavirus as a global pandemic, with the potential to affect our lives in someway.
The current guidance if you suspect you have COVID-19 is to self isolate for at least 14 days, which is considered the gestation period for the virus.
Many of those who are self isolating have chosen to work from home, and many businesses are supporting this move. In our modern connected world, the ability to work from home has never been so available to so many workers.
With an increase in home working, businesses must remember their legal duties set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, to ensure the health and safety of their employees.
This legal responsibility applies to businesses of every size, and with the recent increase of home working it is vital that you ensure your business has the process in place to support your employees and continue to ensure working at home does not place them at risk.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA), employers have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees. This includes homeworkers.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers are required to assess all significant risks, which include risks to homeworkers. Employers must also make adequate arrangements for managing their control measures.
Under the HSWA and the Provision and Use or Work Equipment Regulations 1998, employers are required to ensure that all equipment used by people for work is suitable and safe, and that adequate training has been given.
Under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, employers are required to assess display screen equipment risks, ensure that workstations meet the minimum requirements, inform users, plan work for changes of activity/breaks, provide eye tests and provide health and safety training.
The employer must undertake a workstation assessment of all display screen equipment users, including those working at home.
Under Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, employers are required to supply personal protective equipment if needed.
Other regulations may apply, depending on the nature of the tasks, eg the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 will apply to home workers if exposed to hazardous substances during home working tasks.
Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974, employees have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety, and that of other people who may be affected by their activities at work.
Employees also have a duty to co-operate with their employer to enable the employer to comply with health and safety duties.
Employees should use all work items provided by their employer in accordance with the training and the instructions they receive to enable them to use the items safely.
Employees should inform their employer of any work situation that could present a serious danger to health and safety or of any shortcomings in the employer’s health and safety arrangements.
Here are four simple steps your business needs to consider when allowing their workers to work from home:
Home Working Procedure
Does your business have a procedure in place for home working?
Has it been communicated to every employee? And does it take into account the possible numbers of workers home working.
Has a risk assessment been undertaken for employees work space at home?
This can be carried out by the employee and needs to be a simple exercise to consider any significant risks from working at home and the working environment and reasonable controls to put in place.
Does the employee have suitable equipment at home?
A DSE self assessment should be undertaken to ensure that the work space and equipment meets the requirements of the DSE regulations 1992.
Breaks and communication
Employers must ensure that their workers report into the office frequently by phone, Skype or by agreed means, and ensure that workers adhere to breaks and also working hours.
For Business support and advice regarding home working policies and procedures please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (0)203 637 4744