Assessing the health and safety of home-based workers

Assessing the health and safety of home-based workers

For social distancing purposes during the Covid-19 outbreak, governments and health bodies recommend that employees work from home whenever possible. But how to assess the working conditions of home workers, and improve their situation where possible?

Why working from home can present health and safety risks

Working from home often means no access to a dedicated workspace, optimal work conditions or proper Display Screen Equipment (DSE). This is fine when remote work only happens occasionally, for example one day per week. But when working from home becomes a longer-term solution, the way it is during the Covid-19 crisis, the risks for workers increase.

You can help employees complete their own basic workstation and conditions assessment. This may help increase awareness of the potential risks of the prolonged static postures, ill-adapted screens or social isolation.

It will also let the employer know how to best support the remote employees (for example by providing extra equipment like keyboards, mouse, riser). It may appear that work conditions can be improved with simple things like better communication, to alleviate the feeling of isolation.

Checklist for home worker self-assessment

Some of the things you should consider regarding the health and safety of your remote and home-based workers:

  • How will you keep in touch with them, both for emergency and day-to-day management needs. Find some useful communication tips in this Harvard Business Review article.
  • What does their workspace look like, and if you can help improve it with extra equipment
  • If they are likely to be distracted by others, and how this can be minimised, maybe by modifying work hours?
  • How to increase awareness of the best practices for their physical and mental health: need to stretch regularly, look away from the screen, avoid feeling isolated, etc
  • Basic safety: fire and electrical safety, slips and trips hazards…

This video from the UK Health and Safety government body provides some useful tips to control risks related to the display screen equipment (DSE):

Covid-19 Auditing app

At GoAudits, we put together a complete home workers health and safety self-assessment checklist. You can use it as a template and customise to your business needs.

You will find this checklist within our auditing app (available on Android and Apple Store), or by downloading our Covid-19 toolkit document.