How to keep your 'working from home' staff safe

Government legislation says it's up to you to keep your employees safe while they're working from home. Let's talk about how to do so.

Wednesday, Jul 21, 2021
2 min read

If you felt a change in your employee’s attitude towards work and the workplace over the last 18 months…well: you’re not alone.

Earlier this year, the Second Annual National Remote Working Survey found that over 95% of employees favoured some form of remote working. Yep, you read that right. Not even 5% of people preferred a full-time return to the office.

Those are surprising stats given that most employees didn’t have the option to work from home pre-COVID-19.

What might this mean for your business?

Based on the above, chances are that many of your employees will be looking to continue their homeworking arrangement.

To give you an idea of your obligations as an employer, we’ve outlined the key health and safety requirements below. But first, a little context…

Do employees have the right to work remotely?

In January 2021, the government launched ‘Making Remote Work’, the country’s new National Remote Work Strategy.

The strategy is expected to be in place by the end of September 2021, with its objective to “ensure that remote working is a permanent feature in the Irish workplace in a way that maximises economic, social, and environmental benefits.”

However, this is not an absolute right for your employees, and you still have the authority to reject a request if you have a justifiable reason for doing so.

If you are allowing employees to work remotely, there are several health and safety risks to consider…

Workplace health and safety legislation

Ireland’s legislation puts the occupational health and safety of employees in the hands of the employer (no pressure!).

What that means is: if an employee is working from home, their home becomes a workplace. As a result, it’s your responsibility to ensure their new workplace (home) is a safe place for the employee to work, as far as is reasonably practicable.

If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to assess the safety of your employee’s working environment. This leads us nicely onto the next step: a risk assessment.

Risk assessments not only minimize the risk of injury to your employees, they also show that you’ve complied with your obligations under health and safety legislation.

Questions to ask when undertaking a risk assessment include:

  • What, if any, are the hazards in the home?
  • Does the employee have a suitable desk, chair, and screen?
  • Is the room/home office adequately ventilated and bright enough for the employee to complete their work?
  • Have trip hazards e.g. cables, been identified?

Consider your vulnerable employees

When undertaking your risk assessment, take special care to consider the needs of your vulnerable staff, as they may need additional support or resources.

Vulnerable workers may include:

  • Older workers
  • Pregnant workers
  • Those with underlying medical conditions
  • Employees who live alone

Complete health & safety support, at home or the workplace

Even after putting several measures in place, ensuring everyone’s up to date with health and safety policies, you might be after some extra peace of mind—or an extra resource your employees can rely on to protect their overall health…

Say hello to BrightSafe, complete health & safety support from BrightHR.

BrightSafe gives you access to online health & safety management software with expert over-the-phone guidance. It’s ideal for writing up risk assessments, recording workplace accidents, and accessing exclusive CPD-accredited e-learning courses.

Speak to one of our friendly BrightSafe experts on 1800 279 841 to find out more about how to protect your business and your people.

Share this article