Staying safe when working remotely
Guest blog by Nina Sochon, Managing Director of teleworkhowto.com, Australia
Xero is a great tool for working from anywhere, which is fantastic for business. But you also need to make sure your work health and safety practices are sound.
Australia’s recent Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation establishes responsibilities for employers regardless of where the work occurs. In several States and both Territories there are now criminal offences, meaning employers are now liable not only for workers compensation but also for civil penalties of up to A$3 million payable to employees who injure themselves at home on the job.
Worksafe has said that working alone can increase the likelihood of some workplace hazards or risks occurring. And when incidents occur, the consequences can be more severe when people work alone.
A few practical tools to manage risk are worth highlighting. An agreed and understood communication system is required, to ensure the protection of the worker. The communication plan should include not only an agreed method, but also scheduled intervals to ‘check in’. Mobile and landline phones are clearly the most convenient and method of engagement, however, there are other technologies such as video conferencing, including Skype growing in momentum so that the person continues to feel ‘connected’ to the organisation.
A workplace risk assessment is also important, and this becomes more complex as the workplace is ‘non-traditional’. For those teleworkers who work regularly from one site, a formal assessment and checklist can be completed. The assessment may include:
- Electrical Safety
- Fire Protection and Emergency Procedures
- Agreed hours of work
The checklist must be documented and agreed by both parties, and the system of work will identify if there are any potential hazards to make the worker aware of and establish the safety procedures to be implemented. Where the worker is teleworking regularly in different locations, the site safety assessment is clearly more difficult to complete. In this situation, it is appropriate and more practical to develop and implement a generic safety checklist. Whilst this may seem over the top, the checklist should be easy to access and complete, and if your organisation has a strong safety culture, it will keep workplace risk subconsciously in the worker’s mind when they are working in unfamiliar working environments.
Need more information? An Aussie induction and screening specialist called WorkPro have put together an eBook on how to stay safe when you’re working remotely. Check it out here.