Law guide: Employment

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Health & safety

Health & safety

Contents

Introduction

The employer is responsible for the protection of the occupational health and safety of the teleworker.

Responsibility for care

Employers are under a general duty to provide a safe working environment as far as reasonably practical. Health and safety at work legislation applies whether employees are working in a conventional office or remotely.

This general duty is qualified by the principle of so far as is reasonably practicable. Employees must also take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of anyone else who might be affected by what they do.

For home-based workers, this is likely to include other family members, neighbours, visitors and so on. It is the employee's responsibility to report all employment related hazards to their own or others' health.

Employer's responsibilities

Employers are required to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of all the work activities carried out by their workers under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 (or the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000). This includes those who work from home or elsewhere. In the case of teleworkers, it is good practice for the teleworkers themselves to carry out a self-assessment of the risks from work activities carried out in the home.

All assessments need to identify the hazards that are present and then to assess the extent of the risks. Hazards can arise from electrical equipment and VDUs or from equipment and fittings in the room where the work activity is taking place. These may include the workstation, seating, lighting, heating and ventilation and so on.

The following should be considered:

  • Employers should avoid the need for excessive manual handling by teleworkers. Training should be provided for heavy lifting where necessary.
  • Employers should ensure that all equipment provided is appropriate for the job requirements and, where necessary, provide training. The employer is responsible for the safety of the equipment they supply.
  • All electrical goods must comply with existing safety regulations. The employer is responsible for checking compliance. In most cases, the teleworkers' domestic electrical system is their own responsibility.
  • It is the employee's responsibility to report all faults which may be a hazard to their own or others' health.
  • It is the employer's responsibility to provide adequate first-aid provisions for teleworkers. Exact provisions depend on the nature of the telework activities.