Working from Home (WFH) guidance

Outsource Safety LtdSafety newsWorking from Home (WFH) guidance
July 14, 2022 Posted by Roger Hart

Working from home has become a norm for many clients with a significant number adopting a hybrid approach post-pandemic of being in and out of the office over a typical working week.  With this in mind, the responsibilities of an employer who has working from home in place are worth exploring again.Working from Home

When the pandemic was upon us the risk assessment expectation for working from home was somewhat different.  HSE were aware that businesses were having to cope with a changing set of regulation, restrictions and guidance in order to keep going and so enforcement was, understandably, a little looser than it might otherwise have been.  Now we are in more stable conditions these expectations will have risen and employers have had a greater opportunity to identify and more fully address their duties.

All of this leads us to the question: what are you doing to risk assess working from home and, is it enough?

Well, the answers are below in our Q&A with some caveats, you can also read through the HSE guidance here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/home-working/employer/risk-assessment.htm and check out some more useful links in the text below.

  • Do I need to visit my staff who are working from home?
    • Not necessarily, no. It would be acceptable in most cases for staff to complete their own DSE assessment.  This would typically be supplemented by a few questions which link to this covering safety of electrical items and similar.  HSE have a useful checklist on which you can base your own surveys or you could simply adopt the HSE version.  Here’s a link to HSE document CK1: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.htm  However, you might want to arrange a visit where you have something other than simply using display screen equipment or where that person has greater and more specific needs in terms of ergonomics due to an injury or condition from which they suffer.
  • What hazards do I need to consider when I have staff working from home?
    • Several things come to mind for any home worker. How you will keep in touch with them, regular Teams meetings or other tools might be useful, including a time when a group of colleagues come together to speak and catch up. This also links across to the more general aspects of well-being.  Also, consider the differences between team members, younger staff may not have the space for a dedicated workspace in their accommodation.  If someone can only work from a sofa and you require 40 hours per week of output from them homeworking may not be the best solution.
  • What responsibility do I have for other hazards which might be present in the home?
    • This is a common question.  The hazards with which you should be concerned centre on the following:
      • Electrical equipment, which you supply. Perhaps overloaded cables, PAT tested items for those you supply;
      • Slips, trips and falls – you can give advice and guidance on this through remote learning and toolbox talks;
      • Emergencies – contact numbers for staff should they need them and what you might do if you could not contact a homeworker;
      • Lone working – linked to the above, regular contact or perhaps a more sophisticated monitoring option if that is within your capabilities;
      • reporting of accidents and incidents – should something occur related to the work being done of the equipment being used then these requirements still apply, all the way up to RIDDOR reportables should they happen.

If you’d like to explore more about this here are some other helpful links from ACAS: https://www.acas.org.uk/working-from-home-and-hybrid-working and from the CIEHF (Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors): https://ergonomics.org.uk/static/1c6aa0e1-bbfa-43a0-ad567a98d6bef005/Working-From-Home-Infographic.pdf

There are also some useful videos here that HSE has recommended in the past for use of laptops from Vodafone: https://youtu.be/8Bp_Ury-PA4