New Challenges for Communicating Health & Safety in the Workplace: Remote Workers In the second blog post in our series: Communicating Health & safety in the Workplace, Wayne Dunning, Health & Safety Manager for the ELAS Group looks at remote workers.
Remote working is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but a legal right, which in turn poses a number of challenges for managers throughout the country. Any worker who has been with their employer for a minimum of 26 weeks can request flexible working, and for millions of people across the UK, this means carrying out their duties away from the office, whether on a different site or at home.
Companies have the same health & safety obligations towards those working off site as they do towards their in-house staff but putting them into practice can be quite a different experience. Good communication is key.
Develop one-to-one relationships
A report from the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health, titled Out of Sight, Out of Mind, recommends individual contact with workers who are stationed remotely. It advises against “cascading” information to remote workers, and that managers should invest more time in promoting individual health & safety.
Be aware of responsibilities
One common misconception with remote workers is that if they are working at another site, the host company is responsible for their health & safety. This isn’t the case. Companies are as accountable for their workers’ safety off site as they are on site, so the same necessary safeguards must be put in place.
A problem with remote workers is that if they experience a health & safety issue, will their manager be aware of it? This is why an environment of openness needs to be encouraged, where staff can actively report incidents and help the company learn from these mistakes.
Regular risk assessments
Lone workers should be subject to regular review of risk assessments – and this means involving them in whenever new risk controls are put into place. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) indicates that when a risk assessment shows it is not suitable for a lone worker to be on site, suitable back-up or help needs to be arranged.
Awareness of additional challenges
In many cases, it is more difficult to manage the risks faced by remote workers – they can encounter unpredictable situations that are hard to safeguard against. These members of staff could be subject to violence and aggression, so businesses must have procedures in place to prevent and deal with such incidents.
Look out for our final blog post in the series: Communicating Health & safety in the Workplace, when we offer our top tips for a safer working environment for everyone. You can also read Communicating Health & safety in the Workplace: Gig workers.
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Whether you own a small business, a large corporation, or multiple sites across the UK, we’re here to provide you with the exact level of health & safety support you need. Call our team on 08450 50 40 60 for a
free consultation. References http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf https://www.iosh.co.uk/News/Out-of-sight-research.aspx