Despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions nationwide, business owners must still be prepared for potential disruption to business along with changes in working from home health and safety.
With the continuing necessity for workers to self-isolate if suffering from Covid-19 symptoms, employers still need to think about business continuity plans, employee wellbeing and their home-working policy. The government has a helpful guide on working safely during coronavirus (Covid-19).
For more understanding on employee mental health, our Mental health and Me training can help employees get to grips with their mental health and how to improve it.
How Covid-19 affects health and safety requirements for working from home
Home working has provided some much-needed flexibility for workers in recent times, as well as increased productivity and reduced impact on the environment from travel.
What is important in the process of adoption, and then in practice, is that there is a policy and arrangements from a human resources, operations and health and safety perspective. While there should be limited risks in taking up this way of working, ensuring that there is a structured approach to health and safety is key in providing a pragmatic approach to the challenges facing employers and workers now and in the future.
How do I start this process?
The starting point is whether the worker’s role and their personality are suited to work at home.
Factors such as social isolation can lead to poor wellbeing, a lack of personal motivation and reaching target difficulties, as well as reliance on colleagues to help deliver the individual’s workload.
At a practical level, the worker must be able to create the right working environment, have access to the proper communication and, in particular, an ergonomic workstation. This needs to be achieved with the help of their employer so that worker wellbeing is achieved, and musculoskeletal disorders are avoided, which are prevalent from sedentary jobs and is a significant cause of absence and chronic injury.
What can you do to ensure working from home health and safety?
The role of line management is to ensure that the administrative arrangements are in place to authorise and support workers to work from home safely. This includes:
- The employer’s policy and arrangements are understood and being applied.
- There is regular communication.
- Access to secure networks.
- Robust cyber and information security.
- Relevant insurance systems for reporting accidents and ill health issues are in place.
To provide assurance that workers’ wellbeing will be protected in their home-working situations, an assessment and related training will be required to meet the obligations placed on employers.
Assessments can take the form of a questionnaire or checklists, or a combination of both, but ultimately it should help the line managers make sound judgement about home-working from all of the perspectives set out.
Ensuring that the assessment and training is completed efficiently and recorded accurately for audit, compliance and defensibility purposes is essential. Using an online solution is the only modern way of achieving this. It is used in many organisations to provide the management control and information required to feed into the organisation’s management system.
Ready to welcome employees back into the workplace? Read our guide on how to plan a safe return to work after Covid-19.
How Praxis42 can help ensure working from home health and safety
The Praxis42 IOSH-approved homeworker training and workstation assessment tool is either delivered by our compliance platform (SHINE) or configured to inter-operate with an employer’s pre-existing learning management platform.
This is an ideal solution for employers and employees to understand their obligations better, make accurate assessments, raise health awareness, and meet personal and organisational responsibilities when working flexibly, or be advised to self-isolate due to the current situation.
If you are worried about isolation issues affecting employee mental health through homeworking, look at our training course on Homeworker Awareness to understand the importance of reporting issues and hazards at home. Risk assessments are required by law, as an employer.