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  • Amy Reed

Workplace health and safety: a new, uncharted era

Working from home is no longer a new concept. 2020 forced our offices into the future, by expanding the traditional office space. With this expansion, there are new opportunities – decreases for on-site overheads in the office, potentially downsizing your rented space and allowing greater flexibility for employees. However, with this new opportunity comes new considerations for employers.

Such a consideration is the ever-expanding parameters of Workplace health and safety (WHS). Formerly, such boundaries were relatively finite. Taking reasonable care of an employee’s health and safety was easier to measure – within four walls, from 9am-to-5pm. Currently, the number of employees working from home (WFH) has drastically increased. This results in an additional challenge for employers – ensuring their employees have the facilities and adopt practices within their homes to reduce any risk of injury (be it physical or mental).

Jenkins Legal Services have adopted a “checklist” which seeks to confirm that each WFH employee has implemented a safe workspace. This includes such things as:

  1. Having a suitable chair for prolonged stationary periods – e.g. is it adjustable to right height, back rest adjustable for lumbar support, seat size supports legs, etc.

  2. Is the desk appropriate? For example, is the height appropriate, is it big enough? Is the hand/arm position correct height and comfortable?

  3. Are the walkways clear of clutter and trip hazards (e.g. electrical cords, boxes, rugs, pets, etc)?

  4. Is wellbeing (both physical and mental) considered?

  5. If the employer has taken any of the employer’s property home, have appropriate “return” policies been discussed?

The above list is not exhaustive. Alas, it is but the tip of the iceberg! Each business has different requirements that must be considered and assessed for potential liability.

If you have any specific enquiries about WFH and your internal procedures, please do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss this further.

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