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26th March 2020

New Guidance for Homeworkers

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently issued updated advice on homeworking for employers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Millions of workers have packed up their desks earlier this week after The Government urged people to work from home where possible as part of a range of stringent new measures in a bid to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The HSE is reminding employers of their responsibilities, even if someone is working from home temporarily.

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?

The guidance is encouraging organisations to keep in touch with lone workers 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,’ the advice warns. 

‘Being away from managers and colleagues could make it difficult to get proper support, so 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.’

For those people who are working at home permanently, the risks associated with Display Screen Equipment will need to be considered. This includes doing home workstation assessments.

However, we should state that there is no increased risk from DSE work for those working at home temporarily so our advice would be to provide workers with advice on completing their own basic assessment at home. Lighthouse consultants remain available for advice on this via our adviceline on 0845 459 1724.

There are some simple steps you 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.

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