Home 11 things a home office MUST have to comply with OHS requirements

UpdatesJul 01, 2011

11 things a home office MUST have to comply with OHS requirements

You must remember that you have a duty of care to all employees who work for you – regardless of where that work is undertaken.

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A while back now, I wrote a Bulletin reminding you that you simply can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to employees working from home.

And now, a recent case has again highlighted this very issue…

Earlier this month, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) ordered phone giant Telstra to pay the legal and medical costs of an employee who injured herself after slipping down the stairs twice in two months while working from home.

Because the falls occurred away from the employee’s designated workstation, Telstra denied liability, but the AAT found the injuries she suffered were work-related.

As a result, Telstra will also have to pay compensation for the employee’s lost income and future earning potential – which could amount to millions of dollars.

So what can you learn from this case?

While having employees who work from home on a regular basis can have great benefits for both you and your employees.

The employee can fulfil their family obligations more easily by not having to worry about long, time-consuming commutes, and it gives you an avenue to keep valuable staff happy and retain their services by being flexible.

But you should never take the step of allowing your employees to work from home lightly.

The case discussed above highlights how important it is that you meet all your health and safety obligations – even when it comes to home offices.

Check out Charles’ article below for some great tips on how you can make sure your employee’s home offices are safe, comfortable and meet occupational health and safety standards.

Until next time…

Claire Berry
Editor
Workplace Bulletin

And now over to our editor-in-chief Charles Power…

You must remember that you have a duty of care to all employees who work for you – regardless of where that work is undertaken.

If any of your employees work from home on a regular basis, you have an obligation to make sure their home office environment is safe. In other words, you will need to carry out a full health and safety check and risk assessment of any home office before you allow employees to work there.

A good first step to take in ensuring that a home office is safe and free of risks to health is to require every employee who works from home to complete an OHS checklist.

In this checklist, you can ask the employee to check off specific things to ensure that their home office complies with OHS requirements. For example:

  1. Is there a working smoke detector?
  2. Is there an ergonomic chair and adequately sized work surfaces?
  3. Is a fire extinguisher readily available?
  4. Is a basic first aid kit easily accessible?
  5. Are exits from the work area clear and unobstructed?
  6. Are all electrical cords and appliances safely secured?
  7. Are there any tripping hazards?
  8. Are all floor coverings safe and non-slip?
  9. Are there appropriate handrails on any stairs?
  10. Is the lighting appropriate for the work being undertaken?
  11. Is there proper ventilation and adequate heating/cooling?

Getting your employees to complete a checklist like this (and checking it yourself to make sure) is just a first step towards ensuring that a home office is a safe place to work…

 

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