Safety Regulations if you're Working From Home
Even though the UK is beginning to ease lockdown restrictions, COVID-19 precautions will remain in place for some time. Extra care will still be necessary until the crisis is over. Some sectors will remain closed for a considerable time into the future, as the government proceeds through its steps to ensure that it's safe to resume full activity. Until a comprehensive vaccination programme has been completed and is seen to be working successfully, many people may continue to work from home. It is therefore necessary to ensure that you are doing so safely.
Health and safety at work
When you go out to work, in an office, shop, factory or other controlled environment, you take it for granted that Health and Safety Management is the overall responsibility of your employer. Each individual has their own obligation to observe the regulations, and to take every care when at work that they're behaving responsibly and with due regard to safety. Information and training are always provided, according to the government regulations.
Health and safety at home
Not everyone works in such a controlled environment, though. In the past year, many more employees have been working from home. What happens to your Health and Safety management then, and who is responsible? In the first instance, every homeowner or occupier is responsible for their own health and safety within the home. This includes protecting yourself against fire and health hazards. It also includes taking all necessary COVID-19 precautionary measures, such as masking, social distancing and hand sanitation.
However, the government's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) makes it clear that, unless you're self-employed, the responsibility for your health and safety while working still falls on your employer. In these circumstances, a few additional health hazards have been highlighted.
Stress and mental health
One of the most important risks is to your mental health. Prolonged periods of social distancing can lead to loneliness and depression. This is more likely if your job doesn't involve any online contact with colleagues. You might feel more than usually stressed if you have no direct support or supervision, and this can build up to an unacceptable level. Employers should ensure that they have regular contact with home workers, and provide more support and collaborative advice than they might ordinarily do in the workplace.
Display screen equipment (DSE)
If you're a long-term home worker, you should also be aware of the risks associated with prolonged use of computers, or DSE. Your chair may not provide adequate support or the correct posture, or your desk may be at the wrong height. Excessive screen time may be causing you eye fatigue or headaches.
Employers are now obliged to carry out DSE risk assessments to make sure that you're using the appropriate office equipment, taking enough breaks, and getting any necessary eye tests or glasses. You should be properly informed about DSE risks and training given as required. Even when you're in your own home, your health and safety should still be your employer's priority. You can contact the team at WSS for further information.