Home working: Directors briefing
Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of all employees, including home workers.
Assessing the risks
- A risk assessment should be carried out which identifies the hazards relating to the home workers’ work activities and show the steps that have been taken to prevent harm to them or to anyone else who may be affected by their work;
- If it is not possible for the employer to visit their home workers to carry out a risk assessment, a system of self-assessment that is supported by photographs and detailed descriptions, may be adequate to ensure adequate contrails are in place, risk assessments must be reviewed periodically;
- When deciding who may be affected by the work done at home and how they may be affected, this should include the home worker and members of the household;
- Appropriate steps need to be taken to eliminate or reduce any identified risks and if the employer has five or more employees the assessment must be written down – however it is good practice to always do this;
- The risk assessment must consider home workers who are new and expectant mothers. Risks include those to the unborn child or to the child of a woman who is still breast feeding, not just risks to the mother herself.
The most common health problems experienced by homeworkers are headaches, back/neck ache and eyestrain.
Some common hazards associated with homeworking
- Manual handling – loads that are heavy, bulky, difficult to grasp or unstable; awkward lifting, reaching or handling; pushing or pulling; repetitive handling with insufficient rest breaks; twisting and stooping;
- Use of work equipment at home – incorrect equipment for the job, insufficient provision of training or information, lack of maintenance, insufficient controls/guards, failure to provide suitable and sufficient personal protective equipment;
- Using electrical equipment at home;
- Using substances and materials;
- Fire safety, particularly if the working area is above the ground floor
- Working with DSE
- Lone working.
If home workers use electrical equipment provided by the employer as part of their work, the employer is responsible for its maintenance. Employers are only responsible for the equipment they supply and not responsible for any electrical sockets and other parts of the home workers’ domestic electrical system.
The employer must give consideration to any first aid needs of the home worker.
The main areas of health and safety law relevant to home working are:
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