What are our safety obligations as an employer with people working from home?
Updated: Feb 27
With the rise of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are now facing new safety challenges when it comes to protecting the health and wellbeing of their employees. If your employees are working from home, are you still obligated to keep them safe?
It’s a new and challenging concept, particularly for organizations that are not used to managing safety risks in a remote work environment. However, it is essential that companies take their safety obligations seriously, as failure to do so could still result in workplace injuries and increased workers' compensation costs.
So, what are the safety obligations of an organization when employees are working from home? Here are some key considerations:
It is important for organizations to conduct risk assessments for their employees who are working from home. This involves identifying potential hazards in the home work environment and assessing the risk they pose to employees. Hazards might include ergonomic issues, trip and fall risks, and electrical safety. By conducting regular risk assessments, companies can take steps to eliminate hazards and reduce the risk of workplace injuries. Have you thought about your obligation for what was once an easy process like “Test and Tag” electrical safety?
Employees working from home need to be trained on how to work safely, including how to use equipment and technology safely, how to identify and report hazards, and how to manage their own wellbeing. Providing training on these topics can help to ensure that employees are equipped to work safely from home. Just because your team are at home, they still need to sit correctly, have an ergonomic workstation etc. How will you teach and monitor that?
Equipment and technology
Organizations must ensure that employees have access to the equipment and technology they need to work safely from home. This includes providing ergonomic equipment, such as chairs and desks, to reduce the risk of injury, as well as ensuring that employees have access to safe technology, such as computer monitors and keyboards.
Organizations must have emergency procedures in place for employees working from home, including procedures for reporting incidents and emergencies, and providing support to employees in the event of an injury or illness. These procedures should be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that they are effective and in line with best practices. If your employee slips and falls at home during work hours, who will react to that and perform follow up investigations?
Monitoring and review
Organizations must monitor and review their safety obligations for employees working from home, including tracking injury rates, conducting regular safety audits, and seeking feedback from employees on the effectiveness of safety procedures. By monitoring and reviewing safety obligations, companies can identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes to reduce the risk of workplace injuries.
One tool that can help companies manage their safety obligations for employees working from home is SafetySuite, a comprehensive workplace health and safety software solution.
SafetySuite provides a suite of tools for incident reporting, hazard identification and assessment, home audits and safety inspections, helping companies to manage safety and compliance in real-time, even when employees are working from home. The software also provides features for managing workers' compensation claims and return-to-work processes.
The safety obligations of organizations with employees working from home are significant, and companies must take them seriously to protect the health and wellbeing of their employees. By conducting regular risk assessments, providing training, and ensuring access to safe equipment and technology, organizations can reduce the risk of workplace injuries. SafetySuite provides a comprehensive and effective solution for companies looking to manage their safety obligations for all employees, eve those working from home.