If your employees are working from home, you need a health and safety policy!
The number of employees required to work from home is increasing as a result of restrictions in the workplace caused by COVID-19. While this requirement is a welcome change for many employees, it has caused various operational challenges for employers that require an assessment of risk and liability.
One aspect of managing the employer’s risk and liability is understanding that the Workers Compensation Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations continue to apply to employees working from home. For example, an employee has a duty to follow safe work procedures even while working from home. Similarly, if an employee is injured at home while performing work, the injury must be reported.
The obligation to ensure the employee’s health and safety at home while working is statutory; section 4.21 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations requires that an employer implement a written procedure for checking on the well-being of any worker who is required to work alone or in isolation.
At a minimum, an employer should prepare a written health and safety policy for employees working from home that addresses the following items:
1. A statement about the employee’s duty to follow safe work procedures;
2. The employee’s requirement to conduct an assessment of their workplace and report any hazards to their manager;
3. Protocols for evacuating from the employee’s home to a safe location;
4. How to contact the employer in case of emergency;
5. How to report any work-related incidents or injuries; and
6. Procedures for checking on the well-being of the employee, which includes:
a) The time interval between checks and the procedure to follow in case the worker cannot be contacted, including provisions for emergency rescue;
b) A person must be designated to establish contact with the worker at predetermined intervals and the results must be recorded by the person; and
c) A check at the end of the work shift must be performed.
The policy should be developed in conjunction with, where applicable, the employer’s joint committee and/or the worker health and safety representative. Otherwise, the employer should work directly with the employee to develop a policy that addresses all of the above items.
For more information on how to develop or implement a health and safety policy for employees working from home, contact us!