Health and safety and homeworking

Last updated: 03 Dec 2020

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA), employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees, including homeworkers.

With very few exceptions most of the regulations made under the HSWA apply to homeworkers as well as to employees at an employer’s workplace.

The same health and safety law and standards apply to homeworking as they do to office working.

Although employers are not required to maintain homeworking spaces, if they require an employee to work from home they do have a responsibility to ensure that the working space is adequate.

Any accidents or injuries sustained while working from home should be reported to your safety representative in the same way as they would be if they occurred in the office.

Employers should consult with safety representatives if they are planning to introduce any measures that affect the health and safety of employees.

Risk assessment

Before a homeworker is appointed, employers must define the activities to be carried out and assess any risks to the homeworker.

You should insist that a risk assessment is carried out if you are already working from home and, as far as you are aware, a risk assessment has yet to be completed.

Employers need to take five steps to make sure that a proper risk assessment is done:

  • identify any hazards
  • decide who might be harmed and how
  • assess the risks and take appropriate action to remove them or reduce them as far as possible
  • record the findings – check the risks from time to time and take further steps if required.

The major points to consider when setting up the homework area are:

  • equipment must meet basic standards and be properly installed
  • workstations must be adjusted to a comfortable position, with the keyboard in the correct position
  • computer/laptop screens should be free from glare and reflections
  • chairs should be adjustable to suit the user
  • lighting should be adequate
  • the workspace should not be cramped
  • storage for reference material, files and paperwork should be adequate.

If homeworkers use electrical equipment provided by the employer, the employer is responsible for its maintenance, but employers are only responsible for the equipment they supply.

For more information on this, members can download our full guide to homeworking.

Get help

If you have any concerns about health and safety while working from home, or if you have further questions about this issue, contact us for more help.