Health and Safety Headache

hatThe words ‘health and safety’ don’t normally conjure up positive images in most people’s minds. Grass we can’t walk on for fear of cutting ourselves, benches we can’t sit on in case we hurt our backs, they’ve even taken away all the magazines in my local doctor’s surgery because they encourage disease to spread! It gets people’s goat up, but we are a Health and Safety obsessed society for a reason…some stuff can be dangerous!

So to avoid getting caught up in a Health and Safety drama it makes sense to know the facts.

Your employer is required by law to ensure that you have a safe environment in which to work under the under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This applies whether you work in an office, which is under their control, or from another space, that is out of their control.

It’s strange but in the past when I’ve given talks about remote working there is always somebody who asks about Health and Safety. The problem is that most people are not sure of where they stand.

Working Environment

If staff work from home then an employer will really need to do a risk assessment to identify hazards etc.

Business link provide some useful resources on what this entails and typical hazards that might face homeworkers:

It’s also important that your check your workstation set up: for example check that your chair is adjustable, your computer equipment is safe, VDUs are free from glare and reflections, your keyboard is in the correct position, you are sitting correctly etc. These factors can be considered by self-assessment but if you do have any problems contact your employer. They won’t be able to help you unless you explain what the issue is.

The directgov Web site is also useful and has a good section on computer use.

I have carpal tunnel syndrome and now have a keyboard rest and mouse rest. I’ve also been offered a vertical mouse, though I’m not too keen.

A case study: Location Independent Working

The University of Coventry, Location Independent Working (LIW) project takes Health and Safety pretty seriously and after initial assessment of working environments provide considerable information on procedures. They suggest that:

  • Equipment supplied is be regularly tested.
  • Employees are provided with information and training on the safe use of equipment.
  • Employees are encouraged to take regular breaks.

However ultimately the location independent employee is responsible for day-to-day health and safety issues and for reporting any concerns to their line manager.

Full details are provided in their handbook.

I’ve recently had all my work equipment tested by a specialist electrical testing company. The process took less than half an hour and I know feel confident that I’m not going to blow myself up…at least not while working!!


So health and safety needn’t be a headache as long as you keep it under control.