Setting Up Safe Workspaces For Your Remote Employees
As an employer, how do you ensure your staff will remain safe throughout their working hours if you haven’t been in control of the setup? And as an employee, how do you make sure you’re protected? We talked with Emma Heuston, founder of The Remote Expert to find out how.
When working from a traditional office environment, the average employee doesn’t have to think too hard about whether their set up is safe. Office layouts, chairs, desks and lighting have likely been chosen long before any employees set foot in the office, and requirements like first aid kits and fire extinguishers are all taken care of by management.
But what happens when you have employees who work from home or another location outside the office? Who is responsible for a safe, functioning set up? And how do you know what safe actually means?
Do your research
Depending on where you live in the world, there may be government policies or requirements to adhere to when setting up a workspace. It’s a good idea to look this up ahead of time to ensure that everyone is protected. Remembering that requirements may be different from colleagues residing internationally (or even in a different state).
Emma Heuston, commercial lawyer, author of The Tracksuit Economy and founder of The Remote Expert, a law firm specialising in remote work, says difficulty finding resources was one of her primary motivators for writing her book and subsequently setting up The Remote Expert.
“There’s not actually a place online, and that’s frustrating since so many people work remotely now,” she says.
“[In Australia,] there’s some work health and safety (WHS) law in each State, and there’s the Commonwealth act about WHS, but they’re more a general obligation on the employer to keep the workplace safe, [rather than specific requirements]. They don’t extend specifically to remote workspaces, though remote work places fall under the general obligations of the employer.”
As a general rule, workspaces should be clear of clutter and a safe distance from fire hazards like stoves or heaters. Cables should be secured to avoid trip hazards, in good condition and overloading avoided. The worker should be equipped with smoke alarms, first aid kits, heating and cooling options and lockable doors and windows. Laptops and sensitive data should be password protected and not be left alone with others...Read More
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