Is the UK’s workforce unwittingly heading for catastrophe in years to come?
Working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic was initially a temporary emergency measure, that has undoubtedly changed the employment landscape. When considering hybrid working as a permanent policy, health and safety cannot be overlooked.
You might think that safety begins and ends in the workplace, but the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 extend to homeworkers too.
Whilst an individual is at work, whether in their home or not, they are under the employer’s duty of care. This means employers need to consider the sort of work people are doing, whether they have the equipment needed to carry out their role safely, what communication mechanisms are in place, what mental health support they might need, and how they can report any issues.
Working from home reduces opportunities for coaching and creativity, which may negatively impact outputs and business success. However, it’s also vital to protect the future health of the workforce, so the home work station should be assessed, with corrections made, to prevent health deterioration and potential injury claims. Furniture companies are selling “home office” equipment that is unsuitable for safe long-term working, and the primary factor is:
Incorrect Display Screen Equipment (DSE) and workstation set-up, leading to postural problems, eye strain, and other musculoskeletal ailments
If employees are enabled to work from home in a hybrid model, employers must make sure their home environment is safe and appropriate, in line with their duty of care.
Workstation set-up is particularly important when hybrid working, as this will mean employees have more than one designated desk/workspace – at home, and in an office. When using hotdesking for hybrid working, people may use a different workstation each day. If so, do hybrid workers have the equipment they need in each location? Have they had the information, instruction and training to be able to set up and use a workstation correctly? If not, it might be time for a refresher around DSE, to help prevent future health problems.
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