What are the WHS risks an employer should consider if workers are working from home?
Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and safety in the workplace.
In Australia, the model WHS laws still apply to all businesses if workers are required to work somewhere other than their usual workplace, for example, working from home. In this instance employers must still ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers. The worker also has a responsibility to take reasonable care for his or her own health and safety, including complying with reasonable instruction given by the employer or any policy and procedures provided.
Even in challenging circumstances such as this pandemic there are still measures employers can take to minimise physical and psychosocial risks when workers are working from home. For example:
- providing workers with guidance on what a good workstation set-up looks like
- requiring workers to familiarise themselves with good ergonomic practices, and requiring them to comply with them, for example by referring to a self-assessment checklist
- maintaining daily communication with workers through phone, email or skype, and
- providing continued access to an employee assistance program and appointing a contact person in the business that workers can talk to about any concerns.
Working from home may change, increase or create work health or safety risks. Consultation with workers about working from home and the home environment is important.
Risks that an employer should consider include:
- workstation set up
- work hours and breaks
- physical environment such as heat, cold, lighting, electrical safety, home hygiene and home renovations
- psychosocial risks such as isolation, reduced social support from managers and colleagues, fatigue, online harassment, domestic violence.
For more information about how to work safely from home, please refer to the following links: