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Best Health & Safety Practices When Working From Home

Best Health & Safety practices when working from home

When you work in an office environment, it can get tempting to breeze through your health and safety meetings, especially if your surroundings rarely change. The hallways are still clear, the exit signs still lit, the fire escape is still exactly where you left it. When your employees work from home, the temptation grows even stronger. After all, your employees’ homes are (hopefully) safer than a factory floor. But have you asked, are their home offices really up to OH&S standards? Because as long as your worker is on the clock, their safety is your responsibility. 

In many jurisdictions, if an employee is working alone or in isolation, the employer must outline safety procedures to regularly check in on their well-being and deal with hazards. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when drafting your WFH safety procedure.

  • Their surroundings

In the New Year, my team and I moved into a brand new, totally updated, LEED-certified office building. We used the opportunity to spiff up our personal surroundings; checked our chair ergonomics, got rid of excess stuff that had piled up on shelves, and tied up loose cables. But now we’re all working from home, all that is out the window. Does your employee have a first aid kit at home? A chair that doesn’t hurt their back after sitting in it for more than two hours? In BC the Government states you need to make sure the following is inspected:

  • Ergonomics
  • Electrical safety
  • Tripping and Falling
  • Environmental hazards (ie. adequate lighting)
  • Potential of violence
  • Vehicle safety (if they use their vehicle for work)
  • Biological and chemical hazards
  • Workplace stressors

Make a new safety hazards checklist based on the above and have your employees use it on their monthly safety inspections. My team created a shared document, so we can review everyone’s surroundings at once. Feel free to use it as a template or jumping-off point. 

Monthly Safety Inspection – Working from home

  • Checking in

At the beginning and end of their shift, employees need to check in. It could be as simple as an email or phone call. You should also document all successful and missed check-ins and have a written procedure for the process. Odds are, the beginning and end of shifts should be good enough, but the government recommends more frequent check-ins depending on how many risks are present. 

  • Safety training and reporting injuries

It might take a few tries to hammer out your new safety checklists, but some things don’t change. Make sure to go over what to do in a fire or earthquake and the importance of washing hands and having a clean food prep area. If there’s anything your employee is uncertain about, find online training, implement, and document it. 

Additionally, if your employee trips on a stray power bar and sprains their ankle during their shift, that’s a workplace injury. Make sure to review existing workplace safety procedures for reporting injuries with your team, so that if something should happen, your response is by the book and best for all parties involved. 

Did you always have a health and safety plan in place for WFH employees? Is there anything else we should consider? Let us know in the comments below!

Kael Campbell is President and Lead Recruiter of Red Seal Recruiting Solutions, a company providing recruitment services in mining, equipment and plant maintenance, utilities, manufacturing, construction, and transportation. When he is not recruiting, Kael spends as much time as possible with family in the great outdoors and on the water. He volunteers his time as a Board Member of the Entrepreneurs Organization of Vancouver Island. We have a wide variety of services to help you find the best employees. See how we can help on our Recruiting Solutions page.