The arrival of the Olympic Games in London will result in
companies choosing to allow a greater number of employees to work
from home. This has brought about a flurry of briefings on the
implications of the Games for employers including the safety and
health issues associated with homeworking. Hence the Games provide
an opportunity to remind and inform you of the requirements when
you have workers operating from their homes – whenever
they do so and whatever the reason. Here are some matters for you
Risk Assessments – yes they do apply to home
A risk assessment must completed. The assessment must consider
the activities of the homeworker and any related hazards.
Procedures must be put in place to prevent harm to the homeworkers
and any others affected by their work, including members of the
household, family members and visitors.
You may need to visit the homeworkers to properly undertake the
risk assessment, especially where higher risk work is involved.
Employees can also identify hazards to aid this process.
Appropriate measures must be put in place to remove or reduce
identified risks. Such measures should be written down if the you
have five or more employees.
The risk assessment must be reviewed periodically to ensure the
adopted measures remain adequate.
The risk assessment must take into consideration specific needs
of employees such as those who are new or expectant mothers. Risks
include those which relate to an unborn child as well as to the
What are the common hazards associated with homeworking?
Many replicate normal office hazards but some are unique to the
home environment. Most homes are not designed with home working in
mind – accepting that there are some exceptions. The
following are but a few :
Manual handling – such as carrying heavy and awkward
boxes up the stairs.
Incorrectly using work equipment at home – such as
computer screens not properly located.
Using electrical equipment – are cables being dragged
along floors due to poorly located sockets?
Fire safety – is the working area higher than the
ground floor? What about overloaded extension leads?
You as an employer are responsible for the maintenance of any
electrical equipment supplied to the homeworker as part of their
work. But you are not responsible for the homeworker's domestic
electrical system such as electrical sockets.
What are the possible health problems?
The predominant concern is the ability to detect problems at an
early stage especially if the homeworker is permanently based at
home. The usual conditions such as back problems, eye strain and
headaches often feature. Another matter to look out for is
psychological conditions. A benefit of an office environment is the
support of work colleagues. Home working can be a lonely existence
– a fact reflected by some groups of homeworkers forming
breakfast or luncheon clubs.
If you require more information or have a specific query please
contact us or you will find helpful guidance on the HSE website.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
Specific Questions relating to this article should be addressed directly to the author.
In October 2012, the Court of Appeal confirmed that a Service Provision Change ("SPC") TUPE transfer can only occur where the client who receives the service, before and after the change, remains the same (Hunter v McCarrick  EWCA Civ 1399).