The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted dramatic changes in many aspects of our lives – not least the working world. With so many people finding themselves working from home for the first time, here is ASM’s guide to health and safety in the remote work place.
Just as in any other workplace, health and safety must be carefully considered when working from home. Employers still have a duty of care to their employees, and need to ensure health and safety standards are being met. Employees must also work towards health and safety goals, following guidance, and informing their employers of problems so that adjustments can be made.
How can employers support home working?
Employers have a duty to support the health and safety of employees in the workplace, and this includes during home working. For colleagues working at home, employers should:
– Consult with employees to ensure they are aware of any specific risks associated with working from home
– Check that the work activity and the temporary workspace are suitable
– Ensure that the employee can easily contact their employer
– Provide any equipment necessary to allow the employee to complete their work from home
What are the health and safety responsibilities of employees during home working?
– Cooperate with their employers health and safety guidelines
– Report any issues to their employer immediately
– Do all they can to protect themselves and others from harm in their working environment
Health and Safety preparations for home working
– Temporary remote working arrangements should be clearly agreed between employer and employee, and this should include provisions for regular communication
– A safe and comfortable space within the home should be identified as a work space, separate from employee living areas.
– Equipment needs that ensure a safe working environment should be agreed between employer and employee.
– Emergency plans and contacts should be made clear.
Considerations when setting up a home work space
The health and safety implications of working from home are numerous. When identifying a suitable space within the home for working, consider:
– Is there suitable light, heat and ventilation to create a comfortable environment?
– Are power sockets located conveniently, to avoid trips and falls over cables?
– Is there a desk of the correct height and dimensions to allow for good posture and back health?
– Likewise, is there a chair that will support the employee’s back health and allow good posture during desk work?
– Is the floor clean, clear, and free from slip, trip and fall hazards?
Employees must identify shortages in equipment that will hinder their working process, and agree any additional needs with their employer. When setting up the working space, ask:
– Is there internet access? Is it fast enough for working purposes?
– Does the employee need a headset for taking calls?
– Does the employee need a work phone?
– Does the employee need any additional I.T. equipment?
– Does the employee need stationery supplies?
Keep Communications Clear
When working from home, it is important that clear communication is maintained by both employer and employee. This is not just vital to a good working relationship; from a health and safety point of view it is essential. There are several health and safety reasons for good communications:
– Mental health – those who are new to home working can often feel isolated, and find it much harder to deal with problems than when they were in the office community. Reaching out regularly to colleagues can ease this feeling, and improve productivity, well being, and morale.
– If an accident should arise from an employee’s work activity, it is vital that their employer is informed immediately. The health and safety of the employee’s home work set up should be reconsidered, and risk assessed for the future.
– If working equipment that an employer has provided is not working properly or requires maintenance, this must be resolved swiftly – especially if it creates further health and safety implications.
– If employees have specific health, safety, or welfare concerns, they need to be able to relate these to their employer with ease.
ASM are experts in health and safety consultancy. If you need assistance in reviewing your home working set up, and ensuring that your current plans are compliant with requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can contact ASM on 01 234 3724 / 021 2409072 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As employees go back to the office, clear guidance on returning to work in a COVID-19 environment is of paramount importance. Here at ASM, we’re experts in creating safe and healthy workplaces. We’ve put together this guide on what you should expect on your return to work.
Planning Your Return To Work In A COVID-19 Environment
There are several systems employers should have in place before asking their employees to return to the workplace. These include:
- Appointing a lead worker representative, who will ensure that health and safety guidance is followed
- Updating business and safety plans, including the workplace risk assessments, the safety statement, the occupational health assessment, and the COVID-19 Business Response Plan. Businesses should have a plan in place for how to deal with a suspected case of COVID-19, and a manager responsible for implementing it.
- Employees should receive a Pre-Return to Work form. This will ask employees if they have experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 during the previous 14 days; if they are self-isolating; and if they have been in contact with anyone who has confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within the last 14 days.
- Employees should expect to receive COVID-19 safety induction training on their return.
Travelling to and from work can become quite a challenge from a health and safety perspective. Consider:
- Can you travel in your own vehicle? Travel alone where possible. If car sharing is necessary, your passenger must follow social distancing guidelines.
- Your employer should provide you with cleaning equipment and hand sanitisers to be used in work vehicles.
- If you need to use public transport, try and minimise your journeys. Face coverings must be worn while onboard.
Reducing the spread of COVID-19 requires a team effort. Employers and employees must work together to try and ensure the safety of the whole workplace.
Duties of employers:
- Provide good hygiene facilities, plus information on hand washing techniques, and good ventilation. Supply tissues plus bins for their safe disposal. Regularly empty these bins and provide advice on good respiratory practice.
- Two metre physical distancing must be implemented wherever possible. This applies to all aspects of time at work. Breaks should be staggered, and access to communal areas such as kitchens and bathrooms should be restricted to a minimal number of users at a time. Thought should also be put into smaller actions that could have big impacts – for instance, a no handshake policy; no touching of other people’s belongings; no sharing of pens or utensils. One way systems could be implemented in narrow corridors. Each workplace will need its own specific adaptations in order to create the safest environment.
- Where two metre physical distancing is not possible, employers should install physical barriers between workspaces or prepare specific risk assessments for activities less than 2m. do not go less than 1m. If there is an identified COVID-19 risk, Personal Protective Equipment must be provided in line with public health guidelines.
- Close Contact Work and Group work should be recorded as part of contact tracing.
- Hand sanitisers should be provided, and the workplace should be thoroughly and regularly cleaned. This includes disinfecting all surfaces with frequent contact, with especial focus on areas of communal touch such as door handles.
- Employers must have a dedicated isolation area for any employee who develops COVID-19 symptoms. The sick employee must be directed to this isolation area whilst maintaining distancing, and the employer must then arrange for the employee to be transported to a medical facility or to their home, without using public transport. A full risk assessment must be completed.
Duties of employees:
- Each employee must follow the health and safety guidelines, plus any specific rules their employer has made for their workplace.
- Maintain good hygiene practices, such as physical distancing and frequent, thorough hand washing.
- Do not go to work if they suspect any symptoms of COVID-19
- Talk to their employer about any concerns they may have, for instance if another member of their household needs to isolate, meaning they do too.
Returning to work in a COVID-19 environment is a challenge for both employers and employees. Experts like ASM can smooth the journey. If you need assistance in reviewing your workplace and ensuring that your current plans are compliant with requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can contact ASM on 01 234 3724 / 021 2409072 or email@example.com.
Minister of State Pat Breen has signed in to law the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, S.I. No. 102 of 2020.
The purpose of these regulations is to amend the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2013 to 2019 to extend the validity of safety awareness registration cards which cannot be renewed as a result of the Covid-19 emergency.
The regulations allow for cards which have expired after March 01st 2020 to be still regarded as valid for the duration of the cessation of delivery of the SOLAS Safe Pass training programme.
The amendment was signed on March 31st 2020 and has an immediate effective date
The plans detailed in the HSA’s Programme of Work 2018, which has been published recently The plans detailed in the HSA’s Programme of Work 2018, which has been published recently
The draft revision of the ESB Network COP on Overhead Lines is now gone for public consultation. The draft revision of the ESB Network COP on Overhead Lines is now gone for public consultation.