Home > Safety at Work > Health and Safety for Homeworkers

Health and Safety for Homeworkers

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 7 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Safety Health Home Work Working

Did you know that, even if you work at home, you have obligations under the Health and Safety Act? Here’s an introduction to basic home safety for the self-employed and other people working at home.

Doing A Risk Assessment

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), employers are obliged to protect their employees’ welfare. There are other Regulations that come into play here: the Management of Health and Safety at Work (1999) calls for employers to carry out risk assessments; and the ‘Manual Handling Operations’ (1992) and ‘Provision and Use of Work Equipment’ (1998) regulations also apply to some homeworkers.

Whether you’re employed or a sole trader, it’s useful to carry out a risk assessment that will identify hazards in your working environment. Here are the five basic steps of a Risk Assessment.

  • Identify hazards. A hazard is anything that might cause harm, such as heavy loads and equipment, sharp edges, electrical equipment and systems, trailing wires, and substances or materials that are flammable or otherwise hazardous. (Only substances related to work need be assessed, although it’s a good idea to cover your entire working area.)

    Don’t just consider the physical environment – also take into account any other hazards of homeworking. Does your home telephone become a work line during the day? Do out-of-hours calls cause homeworkers undue stress?

  • Identify the people who are at risk. This helps you to assess the scale of the risk – for example, storing harmful chemicals won’t just affect an employee but also their children. Take visitors and passers-by into account, if they are likely to be exposed to the work or hazards.
  • Take action to reduce or remove risks. The action will depend on the risk you’ve identified, but it could range from fixing wires safely out of reach to attending training for lifting things.

    In the case of hazardous substances, employers are required to consider a less hazardous alternative. If that’s not possible then other options include: protective equipment like gloves or masks; providing better ventilation; ensuring that the employee is adequately trained to protect themselves from the hazards; monitoring exposure levels; and training employees in risk and prevention. You can read more about office safety and using PC equipment in our article (see left menu).

  • Finally, record the risks and the actions you’ve taken. This step only applies to employers with five or more employees, whether they work at home or not. It’s important as it provides documented evidence that efforts were made to reduce risks.
  • Repeat the assessment as appropriate. If homeworkers change circumstances the assessment should be repeated, and a regular revisit is appropriate in most cases.

Other Obligations

If you’re employed, your employer must keep a record of any accidents that you have while working at home. (S)he must also consider First Aid training if appropriate to your circumstances and requirements. If you’re a homeworker and you need advice, your first call should be to the Health and Safety Executive, which has regional offices (find the number in your phone book).

The Executive’s Inspectors are entitled to visit homeworkers to make sure that risks are documented and properly managed. So don't get caught out.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • PersonalSafetyAdvice
    Re: Personal Safety on the Street: How Much Should I Worry?
    None - Your Question:I have been unfairly cautioned by police after an attack.The man who…
    15 June 2018
  • None
    Re: Personal Safety on the Street: How Much Should I Worry?
    I have been unfairly cautioned by police after an attack.The man who punched me lied to…
    14 June 2018
  • PersonalSafetyAdvice
    Re: Personal Safety Abroad
    Marty - Your Question:When I was 13yrs upto 16yrs I was raped and sexually assaulted by a woman I am now 40yrs and I have severe mental…
    21 May 2018
  • Marty
    Re: Personal Safety Abroad
    Can I get justice for this even if the woman that destroyed me is dead and I have no proof of this because I never told anyone till now.So…
    20 May 2018
  • Marty
    Re: Personal Safety Abroad
    When I was 13yrs upto 16yrs I was raped and sexually assaulted by a woman I am now 40yrs and I have severe mental health problems…
    20 May 2018
  • Bobby
    Re: Learning About Self Defence
    I really find these articles very helpful as far as safety is concerned. I appreciate if more of such articles are sent to my mail…
    13 November 2017
  • Concerned perant
    Re: What is Stranger Danger
    Some tips on how to keep your young ones safe: 1. If you do feel uncomfortable about somebody talking to you just kindly say. I promise…
    18 September 2017
  • Concerned
    Re: What is Stranger Danger
    I think this is a great website for to make sure that children are safe in this world. They should be free to live life and go out and…
    18 September 2017