Kathryn Gilbertson

+44 (0)1733 887621 kgilbertson@greenwoodsgrm.co.uk

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Are your protecting your home workers?

Coronavirus / 01 July 2020

As a result of lockdown and social distancing measures, many employees have been, or continue to work from home where possible. It is critical for employers to be aware that they have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers. Are you doing enough to assess risks within individual’s working from home (“WFH”) environments? Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?

All employers have a duty of care to ensure their staff have a safe working environment. However, while the inspector can visit the workplace, they are not currently required to visit private homes. As a result of lockdown and a sharp rise in the number of employees WFH, industry experts are calling for an extension of the health and safety at work legislation to cover people working from home.

New research indicates that there has been a dramatic rise in back and neck pain as well as repetitive strain injuries. Data from UK personal training booking platform Fit4theFight revealed that between 23 March and 23 June 2020, UK based Google searches for “low back pain” soared by 106% from 31,000 to 64,000, as well as a surge in searches for “RSI” and “neck pain”. These issues are primarily linked to poor office setup and the risks associated with display screen equipment (“DSE”). Other issues to consider for home workers include the impact of lone working without supervision, stress and mental health. The Health and Safety Executive has published guidance on some of these issues.

All businesses with employees working from home should devote special attention to understanding their health and safety responsibilities to home workers. Each individual business will need to take bespoke advice thinking about their business model, work activities and number of employees for example. There is no one size fits all answer, but we can help.

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