In conjunction with the School's policy on Flexible Working Options, this guidance provides information for managers and staff on the health and safety implications arising from working from home, so that these can be addressed at the stage when an individual employee makes a request to work from home either on a regular or ad hoc basis.
The legal position
The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAWA) places duties on the School as employer to ensure the health safety and welfare of their employees as far as reasonably practicable. This duty applies whenever the employee is at work regardless whether they are working on the School's premises, other locations or in their own home. HASAWA also places duties on employees take care of their own safety and the safety of others who may be effected by their work activity. Again this applies regardless where the employee is working, so the employee would have to consider the safety of other family members etc.
Most health and safety regulations made under the HASAWA will apply to home workers. These include, for example, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR), the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers are required to carry out a risk assessment of the work activities carried out by the home worker, with the aim of identifying hazards (factors that could cause harm) arising from the work activity and deciding whether sufficient steps have been taken to prevent harm to the employee or anyone else who may be effected by the work activity.
The type of work activities undertaken by LSE staff working from home are likely to be restricted to computer-based work or clerical work. Therefore the main hazards arising from this type of work include:
Environmental factors such as temperature, ventilation etc
Use of electrical equipment
Stress - arising from isolation, lack of support from colleagues or managers
When deciding what measures are reasonable for the School to take to control the above risks, it is necessary to consider the amount of control the School has over the working environment and equipment being used, for example if the School provides equipment such as a laptop for the home worker to use, the School must ensure that it is well maintained and safe to use. If an employee is using their own equipment the School is responsible for ensuing that the employee is aware of the risks arising from use of the equipment but it is the employee's responsibility to ensure that their own equipment is maintained and is safe to use.
Procedure for undertaking risk assessments of home working
When a request is made to work from home. a risk assessment should be undertaken using the home working risk assessment checklist provided. This will need to be carried out jointly with the employee wishing to work from home and their line manager as some of the questions can only be addressed by the employee.
Where an individual has made a request to work from home under the School flexible working policy, the employee will be responsible for providing any equipment deemed necessary by the risk assessment, e.g. chair, document holder etc. Advice can be obtained from the Health and Safety section on suitable equipment. If an employee is required to work from home as part of their contract the School will provide any equipment deemed necessary for health and safety purposes.
The risk assessment will need to be reviewed at regular intervals, (annually) or if circumstances change to render the original assessment invalid.
The manager will be responsible for ensuring the employee has access to sufficient health and safety training to enable them to work safely from home, the Health and Safety Team will be responsible for providing the training.
Working from home made effect an individual's insurance cover, employees will be responsible for making enquiries with their own insurance providers.
Employees who habitually use Display Screen Equipment in order to do their work are entitled to a free eyesight test. Information on how to obtain an eyesight test can be found on the Human Resources webpage.
Information on working with computers and maintaining good posture is provided in the Health and Safety Executive's guidance Working with VDUs (PDF).
Information on fire safety in the home is provided in the Fire Safety in the Home (PDF)leaflet.
More fire safety information is available on the Fire Kills and home fire safety websites.
Further advice can also be obtained from the School Health and Safety Team by emailing Health.And.Safety@lse.ac.uk