Who this article is for: Any employer with home working employees.
How long this will take to read: 5 minutes (a medium chai latte)
COVID-19 took many of us by surprise in 2020. Whole businesses were closed under orders from the UK Government, those that could work from home did…unless they couldn’t (erm, what?).
So now that we are firmly in the first quarter of 2021 and COVID has been with us for a lot longer than we had hoped, what does this mean for employers who are fortunate enough to have their employees working from home?
Health and Safety Responsibilities
As a responsible employer it is only right that you are considering the short term and long-term risks to employee health and safety. In this article, we will introduce you to a few considerations that may have escaped you during 2020 that you should definitely be looking into throughout 2021.
Display Screen Equipment (DSE)
Display Screen Equipment (DSE) includes many items that an employee is provided to work effectively from home such as:
How many of your people are working from the dining room table, couch or bed? How long until their posture starts to affect their back, shoulders, neck, arms and hands?
The likelihood is that it will have already started to affect many of the teams that have been working from home since mid-2020. They may not have said anything, and perhaps not even realised the nexus of the work activity and pain they are starting to feel.
As an employer, you have a legal duty to make sure employees are made aware of the issues surrounding DSE. You should also complete a DSE assessment with your employees too for each space they occupy. An example is if an employee works from home three days per week but also works from the office one day per week (you’re really nice and give everyone a Friday off!)
Training can be delivered online using e-Learning that takes no more than 60 minutes. DSE Awareness Training that is approved by IIRSM could be an easy solution to demonstrate the first element of DSE compliance.
Next is completing the DSE Assessment Tool to highlight any issues the employee has with their workstation (otherwise known as “couch”). Some of the items you may need to provide are very low cost and can make a huge difference to the efficiency and health of your employee.
Final step is review the actions completed with the employee to make sure that any issues are now corrected, and they are operating at 100% capability.
For a confidential chat about DSE Assessments, DSE Awareness Training or any other aspect of health and safety in your business, feel free to contact us directly.
We are operating in some of the most challenging times in recent memory at the moment. Many people are unable to leave their homes. Great if you have a sprawling mansion and 10 acres of land to invite friends to shoot pheasant. Not so great if you live in a room share or 1 bedroom flat infested with damp.
Mental Health Awareness Training is ideal for any person with team leading or line management responsibility for employees. Providing you with guidance on signs and symptoms of mental health as well as practical guidance.
As a line manager you should also make sure there are regular ‘welfare’ checks with your team. This can vary between group chats via Teams, Zoom, WhatsApp or similar, a one-to-one chat or providing access to a support service that specialises in mental health. If your organisations is not large enough to have a support service contract, you can provide information such as the contact details for Samaritans, NHS, Mind or similar. All of these services are totally free for anyone to access.
Keeping COVID Updated
It seems like the most obvious thing to do, but many employers are overlooking this vital step in their communication strategy.
With thousands of articles, posts and videos online, which information can your employees rely on to help them to decipher the noise from the song? As a responsible employer, you can provide simple information bulletins (they don’t have to be as long as this article) to keep your people updated and informed.
COVID information is not just about the national rules and guidance. What are you doing as a business? Is there any good news you would like to share? A new customer, a new hire, a more efficient process that is helping you…Anything positive that can support your employees and keep them engaged in the conversation is great.
Make sure that your COVID-19 Risk Assessment includes this information so that any enforcement bodies can see you take your duties seriously and that you are a responsible employer.
In summary, making sure that you have taken actions for DSE, Mental Health and COVID-19 Risk Assessments are a great way to demonstrate your commitment to health and safety during our current challenges.
If you would like to know more, please feel free to contact us for more information and support.
I am a Chartered Safety Practitioner with over a decade of experience in both operational and strategic management of safety and health.
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