Working from home safety checklist
A lot of Australian workplaces have had employees working from home, some for many years now. But due to COVID-19, the number of Aussie employees working away from the office has skyrocketed.
As this becomes the norm for more members of the workforce, employers may want to review and assess the occupational risks involved with remote working environments.
Working from home safety tips
While it may seem preferable for many, working from home can come with its own risks. If you’re an employer, providing your employees with some working from home safety tips can assist with a risk management action plan to encourage a healthy and productive work environment for remote staff.
Educating and providing resources for your employees encourages safe practices that may reduce the risk of injury, harm or damage to property.
The working from home environment
If the home is where your employees will conduct most or all of their daily work activities, there are some actions your employees can take to cultivate a safe and healthy work environment.
Consider the ‘3 Ps’: Position, Place and Posture.
If their job involves a lot of screen time, talk to your employees about the benefits of good lighting. Lighting can help employees concentrate and avoid the effects of eyestrain, such as headaches.
There are a few things to remember when helping your team with their lighting:
- Make sure any natural or artificial light doesn’t create a glare on the monitor or keyboard.
- Find the right distance between them and the screen, and adjust the display size if needed.
- Consider dimmable lamps and lighting to adapt to changing light during the day.
If employees are hopping on video calls, it helps to be lit from the front. This helps people avoid being backlit – that is, having too much light coming from behind – which can put them in shadow.
It isn’t always possible for employees to have a designated office set up in their homes. They may have a desk in a nook or bedroom, or they may be using their dining room table.
When setting up their workstation, as well as lighting, the following should be considered:
- power points, and
- available space.
Allow employees to discover what works best – some people like to have background music playing as they work, while others prefer to have silence, or even work with noise cancelling headphones. A bonus for working from home is they can tailor the environment to better suit their needs without causing disruption.
You can also explore other ways to boost productivity.
When guiding your employees, explore ways to reduce physical harm, such as maintaining good posture and alignment.
It's best to have an open dialogue between employer and employee on where an employer may be able to assist with the set-up and equipment. You may lend ergonomic office chairs, computer monitors and mice or provide a set-up allowance for your employees.
You may wish to provide videos or guides for arranging the workstation to encourage healthy posture. Promote taking time to consider the body's circulation and mobility whilst completing tasks. For example, the repetitive movement of over-extending arms to type may cause shoulder or neck injuries in your employee. Encouraging safe practices may reduce the risk of injury and downtime.
Good habits for wellbeing
When working from home, it’s easy to forget to take regular breaks. Encourage your employees to set an alarm for scheduled breaks throughout the day, which could include activities like:
- a short walk outside
- calling a friend
- a dance break, or
- a moment of meditation.
Before getting back to work, encourage employees to take a moment to stretch and adjust their set-up for any lighting or activity changes.
Working from home may also be quite isolating, especially for those living alone. Make time to check in with colleagues, or schedule a quick team huddle that isn’t work related. A quick chat about weekend plans or hobbies can have more of an impact than you might expect.
Employees’ considerations for working from home
There is a mutual trust between employer and employee when working remotely. There may be an expectation from the employer for their employees to organise a safe, effective and mindful at-home work environment. When working remotely, it may help to consider the same work practices as generally expected by an employer in the office.
Employers' considerations for employees working from home
As in the office, work health and safety obligations still apply.
Employers have a practical duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees. At a minimum, employers should typically develop some health and safety expectations, and set up a process to ensure these are being implemented.
Some organisations conduct formal inspections of homes before approving remote arrangements, either in person or via video conferencing. In this inspection, employers may request to view an employee’s work-station, for example their desk, chair and computer set-up.
This is to ensure that employees are as comfortable and safe as possible. While many workplaces have now transitioned to hybrid working setups, employers are still required to take health and safety precautions, and ensure they have appropriate levels of cover in case an incident occurs.
The tips above are by no means an exhaustive list. To further protect the health and safety of your employees, make sure you’re covered. Workers' compensation is a form of compulsory insurance for all employers in Australia. Learn more about what's included in Workers' Compensation Insurance with GIO and get a free quote today.
- Why do I need workers compensation insurance?
- The different types of business insurance
- How to boost productivity if you're working from home
Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. In NSW, GIO manages claims as agent for the Workers Compensation Nominal Insurer ABN 83 564 379 108, also known as icare workers insurance.
The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.