The hybrid workplace is here to stay, with many employees now working from home as part of their standard working arrangement. As part of the European Healthy Workplaces Campaign, employers are being encouraged to reassess and ensure ‘Safe and Healthy Work in the Digital Age’.
With the right to work remotely now a widely recognised facet of workplaces, employers need to be aware of the health and safety challenges that this may pose to their workers. This week’s blog outlines some of the key elements that you should be aware of when considering health and safety risks in the hybrid or remote workplace.
Health and Safety Risks in the Remote Workplace
Employers need to be aware of your legal obligations under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 – 2021 in respect of remote working operations. The responsibility for safety and health at work rests with the employer regardless of whether an employee works remotely or at the employer’s premises.
Employees working from home may not have the same ergonomic friendly setup as they would in the office, and in the more relaxed environment they may not be as aware of the importance of ergonomic check-ins. You can read more about our workplace safety consultancy services here.
It’s important to also be aware of the danger of repeated strain injuries, which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, such as back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.
2. Fire Safety & Electrical Hazards
Employees may use their own electrical equipment, which may not be properly maintained or suitable. This could lead to electrical shocks, damage to equipment and even fires. General Fire Safety should be practised including having a working smoke detector, a functioning fire extinguisher (and the knowledge of how to use it) and having an evacuation plan.
3. Psychosocial Hazards
Managing employee’s stress levels and overall mental health is essential for all workplaces, and can be even more challenging for remote workers who face unique psychosocial hazards. In the standard on-site workplace, some common examples of psychosocial hazards include conflict, bullying, high demands, role confusion, low support and improper communication (Source). The addition of isolation and potential stress of working from home could lead to mental health problems and increased anxiety.
Best Practices for Health and Safety in the Hybrid Workplace
- Develop a remote working policy that covers all aspects of health and safety
- Provide remote workers with the necessary training and support to stay safe and healthy
- Provide ergonomic training and support to all employees, regardless of where they work
- Provide training on mental health awareness to all employees
- Provide employees with access to mental health support services, such as an employee assistance programme (EAP)
- Encourage employees to report hazards, both in the office and at home
- Encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day and to get regular exercise
- Be mindful of the working hours of employees and the right to disconnect outside of normal working hours
- Follow your employer’s remote work policy and procedures
- Take advantage of opportunities to go into the office
- Set up an ergonomic workstation
- Be aware of your own health and safety responsibilities
- Take breaks throughout the day to get up and move around
- Use proper electrical safety procedures
- Be aware of your mental health and seek help if needed
- Use the mental health support resources that are available to you
- Report any hazards to your employer
- Set boundaries between your work life and personal life
As our workplaces continue to evolve, it’s important that employers stay informed and up-to-date on the health and safety challenges and opportunities that occur. Speak to a member of the Ayrton team today to find out how we can support your workplace – be it on-site, remote or hybrid – in achieving best-in-class safety standards.