6 things you must do before allowing a worker to work from home
Working from home can be a practical option for employees and employers alike, particularly in situations where the worker may be suffering from a temporary disability (such as a broken leg), have carer’s responsibilities, or difficulty reaching the workplace.
However, if a business allows an employee to work from home, it must take steps to ensure that the home work environment is safe and that the employee maintains its safety.
Ultimately the employer is legally responsible for their employee’s health and safety while they are working at home, in the same way they would be if the employee was working alone in an isolated location.
Let’s look at 6 actions you must take before allowing an employee to work from home.
1. Determine whether it is appropriate for the worker to work from home
Depending on the type of work your employee is required to perform, it may not be appropriate for them to work from home.
To assess whether the worker’s role is suitable to perform from home, consider whether:
- all the worker’s tasks can be carried out safely and efficiently away from the regular workplace; and
- the quality of the work is likely to be affected if work is performed away from the regular workplace.
2. Inspect the home workplace to identify any health and safety risks
Inspect the home workplace prior to the employee beginning work from home and at regular intervals, usually every 6-12 months. If the employee is undertaking high-risk work, this will need to be done more frequently.
3. Manage any risks that are identified in the inspection
Risks you need to manage may include:
- electrical risks;
- ergonomic risks;
- slip and fall risks;
- manual handling risks;
- stress risks; and
- inadequate emergency support.
4. Train the worker in your policies and safe operating procedures
This includes training in:
- fatigue management, e.g. ensure workers do not work excessive hours without breaks;
- manual handling;
- stress management; and
- safe use, handling and storage of equipment and substances, e.g. chemicals used for printing or cleaning that may pose a risk to children if not properly secured.
Communicate and consult with your workers about any safety-related issues or concerns they may have.
5. Provide and maintain safe equipment
Ensure your home-based worker has all the equipment they require to safely undertake work away from the normal workplace.
For example, do they have an ergonomic workstation set up, and is there sufficient ventilation and lighting?
6. Have your worker complete a 6-monthly home workplace inspection
See that your home-based employee completes a 6-monthly home workplace inspection to make sure the workplace remains a safe and healthy environment.
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