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‘Out of sight’ does not mean ‘out of mind’ when it comes to employer responsibilities regarding remote working health and safety

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton
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Employers will have to face new and emerging challenges around health and safety at work given that many employees have expressed a preference for continuing to work from home or for hybrid working.

Certain industries like healthcare have industry specific guidelines but generally for employees in factories and offices working conditions have changed.

This change in location does not change the responsibilities that employers have to ensure their employees have the correct environment to work in. Employers have a duty to provide a safe place of work and a duty to provide a safe system of work equipment.

Assessments should be carried out to assess what the risk exposure is – we have all seen laptops balanced on ironing boards! Employers should be able to show that they have thought about these risks and offered changes to mitigate those risks.

This is obviously easier to do in the workplace than in someone’s home. In practical terms this will mean consultation with employees and showing employees you are responsive to issues they themselves have raised. Information should also be provided to employees about how to make their environment safer.

Risk cannot be taken away entirely but a proactive employer is aware of new risks, anticipates threats and is responsive. Employers should ensure their insurance covers employees working from home. Also look at what arrangements will be in place for hybrid working.

Employers lose sight to some degree when employees are working remotely because they are not physically in the same area but the key is consultation and engagement between employers and employees.

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