remote working HSA guidelines Ireland

General Guidance: Employers Duty of Care for employees working from home


Employers have specific duties to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all employees. These duties include the employee’s workspace where employees are required to work from home.

Key duties that apply to the work activity and workspace include:

• managing and conducting all work activities to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety, health, and welfare of employees.

• providing safe systems of work that are planned, organised, and maintained.

• assessing risks and implementing appropriate control measures.

• providing safe equipment.


• providing information, instruction, training and supervision regarding safety and health to employees, and

• having plans in place for emergencies.

> See full guidance here – Employers Guide to working from home



As an employer what is the duty, we have to our employees working from home, do we need to provide equipment or specific items for each employee?


The employer needs to provide suitable equipment that is with Schedule 4 Requirements (See Appendix A – Relevant Legislation). This essentially means employees should be provided with:

  • An office chair, with a 5-star base, height adjustable gas stem, swivel base and a backrest that is both height and tilt adjustable.
  • A workstation that allows the employee to work in a neutral posture and does not force them into awkward postures due to obstructions, working heights, lack of space etc.
  • A separate keyboard (that is Tiltable) and mouse.
  • Screen (either):

o   A monitor that is adjustable to a suitable height that they don’t need to tilt their head downwards, OR

o   An elevated laptop (used with separate mouse and keyboard)

  • A laptop is not directly referenced in these Act; however under these Act, the keyboard is required to be tiltable and the keyboard is required to be separate from the screen so as to allow the user to find a comfortable working position which avoids fatigue in the arms or hands. A laptop does not have a separate keyboard and should not be used for long periods of time and a risk assessment must be carried out to assess the usage of the laptop and the setup of the temporary laptop workstation.
  • A footrest must be provided, if required

 

HSA Guidance:

 

Employers must identify what equipment/resources employees need to work from home and to agree these with the employee. Required equipment can be recorded in the homeworking risk assessment/checklist in Appendix 1. Such equipment may include:

  • work desk and adjustable chair,
  • IT equipment, for example monitor, keyboard mouse, printer,
  • a headset if dealing with frequent phone calls,
  • work phone, and
  • adequate stationery.

> See full guidance here – Employers guide to working from home

 

What is the guidance on DSE assessments for employees working from home during Covid-19?

It is important to note, that an employee working from home does not remove the employer’s obligations to provide suitable equipment or their obligation to provide a safe work environment to employees. The expectation is that employers would still provide accommodations and look particularly at higher risk employees.

In April 2020, the HSA guided employers that due to the unforeseen nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, employers could consider the home working environment as a temporary workstation. However, on the 30th October 2020 the HSA published updated guidance, advising companies that it was no longer acceptable to consider employees who have been working from home for months as temporary employees.

> See full guidance here – Employers guide to working from home

As a company what is the requirement surrounding WFH Assessments for employees? [ link to remote assessment lead page]

 

Risk assess home working as a policy across the entire organisation and define minimum requirements for a suitable workstation and work environment. 

 

Responsibility for health and safety at work rests with the employer whether or not that work is being done in the employee’s home. In normal circumstances, employers should only open homeworking to employees that have a safe work environment and suitable work equipment prior to the employee starting to work from home. However, this general risk assessment should be done for all employees working from home retrospectively. It is prudent to have a Homeworking Pre-Approval Assessment that is sent to employees as part of the general risk assessment.  

> See full guidance here – Employers guide to working from home

 

These are only some of the questions answered in relation to the new HSA guidance around homeworking for the full guidance on protecting your employees working from home, it can be viewed here – Employers guide to working from home.

Keep in touch

If you have any questions around the new guidelines please email
enquiries@kos.ie


To help your employees working from home adapt to homeworking why not download a free copy of “The Ultimate homeworking guide”