When should your business be organising a home office workstation risk assessment and education consultation?
Many workers have been relocated to their home to continue working for their company under the directive of the Government in response to helping minimise the spread of COVID-19. The challenge for many businesses is that traditionally their workforce would undertake all or most of their work within the businesses offices where they have been designed and fitted out specifically so that workers can complete their job tasks (most often desk based) with the appropriate work tools and equipment. In addition to this, businesses have also most likely conducted worksite hazard and risk assessments (take a look at the officewise document produced by workcover) to ensure the workplace is as safe as reasonably practicable.
Many of the businesses we work with either don’t have workers typically working from home and as a result don’t have formal working from policies and procedures and a risk management plan to accompany this. The other big challenge at present is that we simply don’t know how long workers will be required/encouraged to work from home and therefore without a specific end date, businesses are somewhat in limbo land when it comes to determining whether or not they should have all workers complete a work from home self-risk assessment or provide virtual 1:1 home office risk assessments.
Now lets think about things based on OHS and health and wellbeing. If workers are going to be working from home for the next 3 months, we feel the best strategy for businesses to ensure the health and wellbeing of the individual as well as maintaining a productive workplace, we believe businesses should be implementing the following:
- Education – Educate workers on how to optimise their working from home set up
- Self assessment of their working from home environment and workstation – this includes a review of the hazards and risks in the home as well as their workstation
- Review the self assessments forms and triage the following workers for a virtual 1:1 assessment – workers with pre – existing musculoskeletal complaints whose complaints were challenged by office work, workers with current musculoskeletal complaints, workers whose home office set up presents with a large number of hazards and risks that could be addressed through equipment and education.
The process of risk management should be ongoing and therefore it is important to continually touch base with your workers to ensure they are comfortable and working effectively. It is likely that some workers may begin to feel isolated when working from home which presents as another new challenge that many workplaces have not yet had to deal with on a large scale and additional consideration around how to manage this will be important.
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