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Protect home workers

Coronavirus (COVID-19): update

This page has been updated to take account of working arrangements during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers.

When someone is working from home, permanently or temporarily, as an employer you should consider:

Lone working without supervision

There will always be greater risks for lone workers with no direct supervision or anyone to help them if things go wrong.

Keep in touch with lone workers, including those working from home, and ensure regular contact to make sure they are healthy and safe.

If contact is poor, workers may feel disconnected, isolated or abandoned. This can affect stress levels and mental health.

Working with display screen equipment

For those people who are working at home on a long-term basis, the risks associated with using display screen equipment (DSE) must be controlled. This includes them doing workstation assessments at home.

There is no increased risk from DSE work for those working at home temporarily. So in that situation employers do not need to ask them to carry out home workstation assessments.

However, employers should provide workers with advice on completing their own basic assessment at home. This practical workstation checklist may help them.

There are some simple steps people can take to reduce the risks from display screen work:

 

The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors has published infographics to help people working at home.

Specialised DSE equipment needs

Employers should try to meet those needs where possible.

For some equipment (eg keyboards, mouse, riser) this could mean allowing workers to take this equipment home.

For other larger items (eg ergonomic chairs, height-adjustable desks) encourage workers to try other ways of creating a comfortable working environment (eg supporting cushions).

Our brief guide has more information.

Keep DSE arrangements under review

As any period of temporary home working extends, employers should have regular discussions with workers to assess whether additional steps are needed, for example where they report:

Where employers decide to make working from home arrangements permanent, they should explain how to carry out full workstation assessments and provide workers with appropriate equipment and advice on control measures.

Stress and mental health

Home working can cause work-related stress and affect people’s mental health.

Being away from managers and colleagues could make it difficult to get proper support.

Keep in touch

Put procedures in place so you can keep in direct contact with home workers so you can recognise signs of stress as early as possible.

It is also important to have an emergency point of contact and to share this so people know how to get help if they need it.

Updated 2020-07-07