The Health and Safety Executive recently published new guidelines for looking after the health, safety and wellbeing of lone working employees. These revised guidelines included a specific focus on those employees who work from home. In light of the current situation around the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires people to work from home wherever possible, it is more crucial than ever to familiarise yourself with these guidelines.
So, what does the HSE say about controlling the risks of working from home?
You have the same responsibility for the safety and health of employees who work from home as for any other employees. This means providing supervision, education and training, as well as implementing enough control measures to protect the homeworker. You should accept liability for accident or injury of a homeworker as for any other employee
- Communication is key to keeping your team together when working apart and critical in making your home working employees feel connected and supported. There are plenty of useful tools at our disposal to help us stay connected these days. Consult with your team about how they would like to be supervised and communicated with; email may be enough for some, but perhaps others would benefit more from regular phone calls. Being visible to each other is also a fantastic option. You could consider apps such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams to arrange video calls and conferences.
- It is important that your home working employees understand what this new working environment means for them. Many may never have worked remotely or from home before. Take time to share guidelines and educational pieces around working from home, so your team understands what is required of them and how they can flourish working in a home environment.
- If the way your business operates has temporarily changed, this needs to be reflected by updating training materials made available to your employees. It is essential that you equip your new home working employees with guidance and training materials to help them adjust to their new working environment.
- Implementing control measures
- As part of your duty of care to your employees, it is crucial to consider how best to mitigate risk when working from home. At the bottom of this article, we have provided a number of useful resources for information relating to the legal aspects of working from home.
- You may also wish to use this opportunity to investigate software solutions which are specifically dedicated to protecting your new lone workers and ensuring the control and protection measures put in place are adequate for the new risks they may now face. These can help provide home workers with peace of mind that, if anything should happen, there is somebody available to help them when they need it most.
We hope we have been able to shed some light on your responsibilities as an employer of home working staff. Please do have a look at the resources we’ve provided below for more insight and guidance: