As vaccines continue to be distributed and the UK attempts to reopen, many employers are planning to continue remote work. A study of approximately 1,000 firms by the Institute of Directors found that approximately 74 per cent plan to continue remote work policies that were started or expanded during the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s important for employers to understand that they remain responsible for the health and safety of their employees, even if they are not working on the organisation’s premises. This includes educating and training employees on potential risks that may have become more serious while working remotely—or that they may not have been personally responsible for in a traditional work environment—such as:
- Fire safety—Employers may not be able to control physical characteristics of an employee’s remote work environment—such as building materials or wiring—but they remain responsible for at least educating their workforce on fire prevention and safety.
- Ergonomics—In a traditional office environment, employees may be privy to desks, chairs and other equipment that is specifically designed for extended use. However, those working at home may be using less optimal workstations. With that in mind, it’s important for employers to educate employees on ergonomics and the dangers of musculoskeletal disorders.
- Well-being and stress—While many employees report enjoying working from home, there are also many who have said it has been detrimental to their mental health. Managers should stay in frequent contact with remote employees and should inquire about stress levels regularly. Employees may not be forthcoming about any mental health issues, so it’s important to be observant of all behaviour.
- Electricity—Employees may have had their workstations wired and set up for them in the physical workplace, but when working remotely, it may be up to them to arrange things. With that in mind, employers are responsible for educating workers on how to use electrical equipment safely. Organisations must also check equipment that is being provided to remote employees to ensure that it is safe and undamaged.
For more information on workplace health and safety programmes for flexible work environments, contact us today.