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Safety Considerations for Remote Employees

Let’s face it… an employer, managing the health and safety of your workplace is a minefield.  So many things can go wrong, including ‘human error’.  What about the health and safety of employees who undertake their work away from the business’ main location, for example; employees who drive from location to location such as sales, technicians, couriers; or employees who work in other workplace locations such as home care workers, and contractors to other organisations. This just adds a whole new level of complexity to be considered.

Now that we have said that out loud, it doesn’t need to be as daunting as it sounds.  An employer is legally obligated to identify and control the workplace health and safety risks to which their employees are exposed, as far as is reasonably practicable.

In order to do this, an employer must ask a simple question: in doing this job, what risks could my employee be exposed to?

Considerations when answering this question will include such things as the work environment. For example, if the employee is required to drive, risks associated with road accidents must be considered.  For employees who attend home inspections, could face falls whilst alone or face violence.

Once you have identified the types of risks your employees could face, you will then be able to consider strategies for managing those risks.  For example, risk controls for workers who drive vehicles should be appropriately licensed, follow road rules, and drive a fully maintained vehicle. Employees who attend home inspections alone, may carry emergency notification devices, or have check in arrangements with office to ensure calls are made to confirm arrival and departure.

Number one consideration for any employee who undertakes work away from the usual workplace is COMMUNICATION.

Consideration must be given to employees who may enter areas without mobile phone reception.  In these instances, measures such as satellite phones, GPS trackers and regular call ins should be implemented.

When preparing management plans that detail risk controls and emergency plans, first aiders and first aid kits should be provided with skills and equipment to deal appropriately with potential risks ie., spider bites, snake bites etc.

It is often thought that when your employee is undertaking work on other organisation workplaces, that the host workplace is responsible for the health and safety of everyone.  Whilst all employers do hold accountability for the health and safety to all persons who attend their workplace, the actual employer is responsible for the employees health and safety.  Consideration should be given to working with the host workplaces to ensure they manage workplace risks and that your employees are inducted to those workplaces.

In conclusion – it would be deemed that an employer has taken reasonably practicable steps to manage the health and safety of their remote working employees if the above steps are taken.  Remember, the easiest way to capture the risks associated with what your employees actually do is to consult with your employees and any host employers.

For assistance in addressing risk assessments for your employees, contact us at [email protected]

Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors such as government legislation changes, may not be up-to-date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.

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