With the exponential rise in remote workers, organisations face many new challenges to their health and safety compliance. While working remotely can offer many benefits, such as improving staff’s mental health by offering more flexibility and saving on office space, it can also present new risks when it comes to workplace safety.
A 2021 report from two UN agencies found that without adequate measures and support, remote work can increase the risk of:
- Social isolation;
- A poor work-life balance;
- Domestic violence and harassment;
- Musculoskeletal disorders, eye strain and other injuries;
- Policies on smoking, alcohol and drugs not being enforced; and
- Prolonged sitting and screen time.
In this blog post, we explore best practices and tips for mitigating such risks through health and safety compliance training for remote workers.
First and foremost, it is important to recognise that the responsibility for ensuring health and safety compliance does not shift solely to the employee when they are working from home.
Employers still have a legal obligation to ensure that their employees are working in a safe environment, even if that environment is in their own home. According to the UK HSE (Health Service Executive), “As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for people working at home as for any other worker.”
So, what are some best practices and tips for health and safety compliance training for remote workers?
Make policies accessible
Employers should provide – and enforce – clear policies to ensure the health and safety of their remote workers. These could include guidelines on ergonomic workstations, fire safety and emergency procedures. Employers should also make sure that remote workers are aware of reporting procedures for accidents and incidents.
One way to address this in eLearning solutions is to have the solution structured in a somewhat similar way to the policy. That way, if learners want to refer to the policy, it will feel familiar and be easier to navigate.
With that in mind, use the same key terms as are used in the policy, and if the policy is split into different sections, it may be appropriate to break up the eLearning solution in a relatively similar way.
Before any of this, though, it is a good idea to review those policies for compliance requirements.
Conduct risk assessments
Employers should conduct risk assessments to identify potential hazards that may be present in home workspaces, including electrical safety, fire safety and ergonomic risks. Risk assessments can help employers identify areas where additional training, equipment or other measures may be necessary.
E-learning solutions could address such hazards by including a picture of a workplace scenario full of hotspots that the learner can interact with. Examples could include dangerous wiring, untidy work areas, unergonomic equipment and other such hazards. These types of scenarios are extremely effective at engaging learners.
Depending on the course style, this could also be created as a knowledge-check activity.
Encourage breaks and movement
Sitting for prolonged periods can increase the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders, like back and neck pain. Taking regular breaks and regularly moving around or alternating between sitting and standing can reduce the risk of these disorders.
A simple schedule-creation activity could be used to encourage this behaviour, like asking learners to place different cards or blocks into a schedule in an appropriate order. Each card or block could say things like ‘20 min. screen time’, ‘20 min. break’, ‘take short walk’, etc.
As working from home continues to grow in popularity, it is crucial that organisations prioritise health and safety for their remote workers. Employers should establish clear rules and policies, conduct risk assessments, provide appropriate training, encourage regular breaks and movement, and remain up to speed on regulations so they can continue to meet their compliance obligations.
Even though the pandemic has compelled many organisations to allow more remote work, it is crucial to remember that the legal responsibility to guarantee health and safety does not stop at the office door.
GRC eLearning offers a range of staff awareness solutions to help your employees navigate their workplace requirements.
This includes our Health and Safety Staff Awareness E-Learning Course and our course dedicated to managers’ responsible for overseeing health and safety in their department.
These courses were developed by in-house subject-matter experts and instructional designers to provide educational and engaging content that’s ideal for organisations of all sizes.
We incorporate simulations and game scenarios, while also providing a taste of the real-world application of these lessons. Our courses are regularly updated to account for the latest frameworks and guidelines.
Check out our range of health and safety courses today to discover how we can help your staff work safely.