Home Computer Workstations
For those companies who may have sent staff home to work and where this is looking like a long-term plan, you might be tempted to just ensure employees have a laptop to work from and that is enough.
However, I have been finding through lockdown that not only am I doing more customer site visits ‘virtually’ but also, I am typing up at my computer. Sometimes this can mean I am sat at my desk for almost a whole day at a time. As such I have been suffering with eye strain and getting aches and pains.
Be reminded that you as an employer (or person responsible for others at work) you have the same responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers…
Things you should consider are:
Risks to workers working alone at home: Can you keep in touch with them easily? (have you provided a mobile phone, have you specified a communication structure/timetable so that contact can be maintained?). Are they medically fit enough to work at home safely? Are there dangers with their work – are they vulnerable and maybe live remotely so are unable to get help? Will the set up create afire risk in their home? If workers are using a laptop computer, how long will they be using it for? Do they have the basics such as a table/chair and have you provided advice or information on safe set up? Are they protected from fire risk, is their home insurance going to be invalid if they work from home?a
It is important to note that working from home or away from the main office reduces the ability of workers out on the field to adequately gain access to safety documentation, ad hoc communication or general conversation and knowledge about other departments that may have previously been discussed within the open office. This makes it important that you as the employer give workers key information, regular communication with others and training along with any updates regularly.
Using a laptop whilst sitting on the sofa might sound cozy as anything, but if it is for 8 hours a day, this will take its toll and become uncomfortable and even unsustainable for some employees, however if it is only used for 1 hour a day, this would be deemed as an acceptable risk.
For longer term users (over an hour) I would recommend your workers carry out a ‘DSE Self-Assessment’ (DSE = Display Screen Equipment) on their workstation. This can be sent back to you as the employer to review and discuss any issues raised.
Reasonable adjustments during this time for longer term homeworkers AND after the DSE Self-Assessment has been completed, might be: keyboard, and mouse, laptop stand, adjustable chair, table, lighting, but could be as simple as just some advice and tweaking the layout in your own home. Don’t forget this doesn’t mean buying new, these items could be transferred from the normal workplace to home.