Working From Home Risk Assessment
As Australia continues to take measures in order to combat the spread of COVID-19, such as closures of schools and businesses, many workplaces face the challenge of introducing widespread working-from-home-arrangements. There still remains a duty of care owed by employers to take the necessary steps to ensure staff safety in these circumstances.
Employers must determine whether it is safe to encourage staff members to be working from home, for a substantial period of time. Many businesses may find that additional steps need to be taken to determine whether their staff may be exposed to risks, and if so, how to prevent or manage these risks. This obligation exists whether or not the requirement to work from home is voluntary or at the direction of the employer.
Any injury that may occur during the course of employment, including while working from home is likely to result in potential exposure to a workers’ compensation claim.
In order to perform a home-based risk assessment, some businesses may be able to use internal or external resources for affected staff. However, given the current situation, the recommended approach is to ask staff to perform their own at home risk assessment. This can be done through an employee survey, checklist with photos of the work station or an informal discussion with affected staff.
Risks to be Assessed Include:
- If there is an appropriate work-space with ventilation, light and no electrical hazards
- Whether there is a readily accessible channel of communication in place between the employee and employer
- If accessible emergency medical assistance is available
- Whether there are smoke detectors, fire extinguishes or first aid kits fitted throughout the house
- Whether hygiene products eg. hand sanitiser and safety masks need to be supplied to workers if interaction with third parties is required
Working from home is likely to be a new experience for many of your staff. It is important to provide adequate information and instruction to your staff on how they should work safely from home. Instructions can be delivered through group briefing and emails. Employers should highlight the access to Employee Assistance Programs during this period, as well as the potential psychological impact on staff members when working in isolation.
Every business must have an Office Workplace Form that they must get all staff to complete when working from home. If not, or your form needs updating, contact Safe Industries Australia.