WORLD DAY FOR HEALTH AND SAFETY AT WORK – 28 APRIL 2020
POINT 1. Employers duties under health and safety law in relation to those employees working from home
Employers have a general duty to ensure so far as reasonably practicable the safety, health and welfare of their employees and this duty continues to apply where an employee is working from their home.
Employers have a duty to carry out a risk assessment of employee workstations, whether that is at home or in the usual place of work. This applies to many areas not just about ergonomically appropriate furniture and equipment, it als includes Display Screen Equipment.
The current guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is that home workstation assessments do not need to be undertaken for those working at home “temporarily”. However, due to the uncertainties around the length of time that the COVID 19 pandemic will continue, it would be good practice for employers to ensure they review their current procedures and risk assessments.
We can help with advising employers about self-assessments and steps to take ensuring that any employees who had adjustments in the workplace are similarly catered for at home. There are also obligations on employers to ensure their employees’ mental wellbeing is supported during this period. Many employees will be suffering from heightened anxities about their work and future, and perhaps you may have individuals who are lone working without any day to day contact with colleagues.
POINT 2. Health and safety considerations for those employees who continue to attend the workplace
General duties under health and safety legislation continue to apply to those staff who remain in the workplace.
Your existing procedures and risk assessments should have been reviewed to take into account the risks that coronavirus poses and you should be following government guidance. To do so will provide you with a potential defence to any claims being brought if any arises, although this will depend upon each individual circumstances.
All businesses have a statutory obligation to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments. These must be kept under review, and recorded in writing. Particular instances for recording reviews include where the assessment is no longer valid or where there has been a significant change.
The majority of businesses tend to be focussing on government coronavirus COVID-19 steps which includes:-
- ensuring access to adequate handwashing facilities;
- procedures to allow for employees/contractors/visitors to report symptoms;
As a business you should also consider all on-going relevant health and safety matters which may be affected by a reduce workforce, either as a result of homeworking or self-isolation and maintain a record of those employees affected.
Record-keeping is imperative during this time. All employers should keep documentation to evidence what coronavirus COVID-19 related procedures have been implemented and must ensure that these are being followed.
Point 3 – Dealing with reporting of injuries under The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (“RIDDOR”).
RIDDOR requires the notification of certain workplace accidents, occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences to the Health and Safety Executive. The HSE guidance explains that a report under RIDDOR relating to coronavirus COVID-19 must only be made when:
1. An unintended incident at work has led to someone’s possible or actual exposure to coronavirus COVID-19 by virtue of circumstances which result in (or could result in) the virus’ release or escape. This must be reported as a dangerous occurrence. The example given in the guidance is a lab worker accidentally smashing a glass vial containing coronavirus COVID-19, leading to exposure.
2. A worker has been diagnosed as having coronavirus COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work. This must be reported as a case of disease under RIDDOR. The example given in the guidance is a health care professional who is diagnosed with coronavirus COVID-19 after treating patients with coronavirus COVID-19.
If we can be of any assistance during this time Contact us