It comes at a time when businesses are seeing more people working remotely and the warning refers to risk assessment, specifically Display Screen Equipment (DSE) checks, and making sure companies are complying with the regulations.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently updated its guidance on home and hybrid working with a focus on what employers should be considering – including managing homeworkers health and safety.
Aleesha Skett, of the HR Dept Shropshire, is raising awareness about the obligations faced by employers while office furniture and stationery supplier Chrisbeon said it has DSE assessors in-house who can provide businesses with everything they need to ensure home workstations meet the necessary health and safety requirements.
Ms Skett said: “Employee Health and Safety must be maintained as far as is reasonably practicable when staff are working from home under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, whether that is permanently or on a hybrid basis.
“Employers are required to carry out risk assessments on the home workstation to identify any hazards and associated risks with the work the employee undertakes. Failure to carry one out may be deemed a breach of trust and confidence or lead to an employee making a protected disclosure by reporting the health and safety breach to a higher power.
“An employer’s duty under the 1974 Act is to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all of their employees, providing and maintaining a safe system of work. Therefore, employers should at least be assisting employees to put right any identified hazards, adapting their home workstations as necessary.
“Whilst there is no legal obligation on employers to provide equipment for home and hybrid workers generally, there is where the equipment is needed due to health and safety concerns, and the employer is liable to fund this. Examples of this could be where an employee is hunched over their laptop on the sofa all day, causing them back problems, or where the employee has an existing disability.
“Many issues for ‘office’ workers can be easily fixed by providing them with appropriate seating and any support devices they may benefit from such as footrests. A benefit to the employer here is that where the home working arrangement has been made formal, this equipment is not subject to income tax or national insurance so long as the property remains the employers and the employee isn’t using it regularly for personal matters.”
Richard Hughes, partner at Chrisbeon based in Telford, said: “DSE regulations apply to workers who use DSE on a daily basis, for an hour or more at a time, and risk assessments should be carried out if a new user starts work, a new workstation is set up or if you have changed workstations for any reason.
“It’s also important for employers to remember that this includes home and hybrid working – something that is becoming increasingly relevant as the new way of working for many businesses and staff – but something they may be unaware of.
“A DSE assessment is a risk assessment that looks at the health risks of working with display screen equipment such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones and addresses things like poor posture, poor working habits and having the right equipment in an appropriate environment for the worker to carry out their job safely and efficiently .
“A certified DSE assessor is required to carry out an assessment and independent assessors are available. Our team at Chrisbeon includes a certified DSE assessor and we are happy to help businesses meet the necessary requirements.”