Protect Home Workers | Wessex Health and Safety

Protect Home Workers

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:

  • How will you keep in touch with them?
  • What work activity will they be doing (and for how long)?
  • Can it be done safely?
  • Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?

    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.

    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.

    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. During any period of temporary home working, employers need to regularly discuss these arrangements with their employees. If such work is adversely affecting the health, safety and welfare of their employees, they should take appropriate steps.

    However, employers should provide workers with advice on completing their own basic assessment at home. This practical workstation checklist (PDF) – Portable Document Format (PDF)– Portable Document Format may help them. There are some simple steps people can take to reduce the risks from display screen work:

    • breaking up long spells of DSE work with rest breaks (at least 5 minutes every hour) or changes in activity
    • avoiding awkward, static postures by regularly changing position
    • getting up and moving or doing stretching exercises
    • avoiding eye fatigue by changing focus or blinking from time to time

Signs of stress

If employees start acting differently, it can be a sign they are stressed. Managers should look out for signs of stress in teams and employees, listed below. Think about whether the stress could be linked to work pressure.

Acting early can reduce the impact of pressure and make it easier to reduce or remove the causes. If managers are worried that an employee is showing some of these signs, they should encourage them to see their GP. These signs can be symptoms of other conditions. If there is something wrong at work, and this has caused the problem, managers should take action.

Signs of stress in teams

There may be signs of stress in a team, like:

  • arguments
  • higher staff turnover
  • more reports of stress
  • more sickness absence
  • decreased performance
  • more complaints and grievances

Employers must assess the risks of work-related stress in their workplace and take action to protect employees.

Signs of stress in an employee

A change in the way someone acts can be a sign of stress, for example they may:

  • take more time off
  • arrive for work later
  • be more twitchy or nervous

A change in the way someone thinks or feels can also be a sign of stress, for example:

  • mood swings
  • being withdrawn
  • loss of motivation, commitment and confidence
  • increased emotional reactions – being more tearful, sensitive or aggressive

Employees can help look after their own stress levels at work – if you think you have a problem talk to your manager, a colleague or your GP.

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