With the COVID-19 crisis, many of our staff are working from home. What is the correct set-up for a home workstation and floor space to ensure we are complying with our health and safety duties? We operate in NSW.
You should complete your own safe workplace assessment of your employee’s home work station. It is important to note that you owe the same obligations to your employees working from home as you do when they perform work at their usual place of work.
A suitable approach is to follow SafeWork NSW’s Code of Practice, Managing the work environment and facilities (Code). The Code provides guidance on establishing a safe workspace, which applies to employees establishing a home office and safely working from home.
The Code recommends:
- designing the work area to provide clear space between furniture, fixtures and fittings so that your workers can move about freely or without strain or injury; and
- the work area should also allow your worker to exit easily in case of emergency.
In addition to this, when considering the appropriate amount of floor space for a safe workplace you should consider:
- the physical actions needed to perform the task;
- the need to move around while working;
- whether the task is to be performed from a sitting or standing position;
- access to workstations; and
- the equipment to be handled.
SafeWork NSW has published helpful guidance material on working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Guidance on the risks employers should consider when employees working from home: safework.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/Coronavirus-advice-and-guidance-for-NSW-workplaces/faqs/specific-advice/what-are-the-whs-risks-an-employer-should-consider-if-workers-are-working-from-home; and
- Guidance on working from home under COVID-19, including a SafeWork working from home checklist: safework.nsw.gov.au/resource-library/Coronavirus-advice-and-guidance-for-NSW-workplaces/working-from-home-under-covid-19.