The respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) has led to significant changes to the way work is done. The Australian Government encourages workers to work from home where possible to reduce the risk of exposure through reduced use of public transport and face to face contact. This is consistent with the Australian Government’s guidance regarding social distancing.
As an Australian employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure the health safety of your employees while at work, including when working from home.
What does this mean for your business?
The relevant health and safety legislation continues to apply, even when an employee is working from home. In particular, an employer is responsible for controlling new risks that may be introduced when an employee works from a location other than their normal workplace, such as their home office.
If an employee sustains an injury in the course of their duties while working from home, it is likely they will be covered under workers compensation insurance. Likewise, if a notifiable incident occurs, the regulator will need to be notified.
Therefore, it is essential that risks associated with working from home are managed effectively and that safe systems of work are provided.
How PJRA Can Help
Facilitating Working from Home Risk Assessment: We can assist you with the review and development of a working from home risk assessment to ensure safe systems of work are provided;
Implementing a Working from Home Checklist: We have a working from home checklist which we can tailor to client specific needs. We can assist with the implementation of the working from home checklist (including via video conference) and supporting your processes; and
Verifying Checklists: We can provide services to assist in the verification of completed self-assessment checklists.
Working from Home Risk Management
All organisation’s should have the following risk management strategies in place:
1. Risk Assessment
A working from home risk assessment should be established, outlining how risks associated with working from home are managed. At a minimum the risk assessment should consider the following risks:
Manual handling – including lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying activities
Office ergonomics – including equipment available and correct set up
Working environment – including lighting, ventilation, temperature, noise, trip/slip hazards
Electrical safety – including cable management and visual inspections
Emergency management – including equipment and emergency exits
Remote / isolated work – including communication procedures
Employee wellbeing – including physical and mental health
2. Working from Home Self-Assessment Checklist
A Working from Home Self-Assessment Checklist is to be completed by all employees working from home and must include a photo of the designated work area. A process must be established for employees to submit completed forms.
3. Verification Process
Once a Working from Home Self-Assessment Checklist is completed, it should be verified by a suitably competent person. All forms are to be reviewed to ensure accuracy and a follow up is required with those employees who have raised concerns during the completion of their Working from Home Self-Assessment.