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Health and safety for working from home

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Purpose

A basic guide on the issues to consider and address when implementing a working from home (also called telecommuting, e-work and telework) arrangement.

What is a working from home arrangement?

An arrangement made between a worker and the workplace to undertake suitable work from their home as part of their usual work requirements. The arrangement should include:

  • where the worker will perform the work (home-based work location)
  • what hours / days of the week the work will be performed at home
  • what equipment is required to perform the work safely and productively
  • communication methods
  • work performance and expectations.

What are the work health and safety considerations for working from home?

It's important for employers and workers to work together to identify and minimise work health and safety risks.

Employers

An employer has the primary duty of care and must do what is reasonably practicable to ensure the health and safety of their workers, including when allowing workers to work from their home.

Workers

A worker has an obligation to take care of their own health and safety and follow health and safety policies, procedures and instructions put in place by their employer. This may include:

  • following procedures about how the work is performed
  • following instruction on how to use the equipment provided by the workplace
  • maintaining a safe work environment (for example moving furniture to allow adequate workspace and providing adequate lighting, repairing broken steps)
  • keeping their equipment safe, well maintained and in good order
  • looking after their own in-home safety (for example maintaining electrical equipment and installing and maintaining smoke alarms)
  • reporting changes that may affect their health and safety when working from home
  • Remember, it’s important to stay healthy when working from home – the Healthy habits at home checklist (DOCX, 0.55 MB) can help. For more information visit our health and wellbeing page.

Workers compensation and rehabilitation

Injuries sustained while working from home are compensable if the injury arises out of or in the course of your employment, and the employment was a significant contributing factor to the injury.

Injuries sustained while on a recess break from work are also compensable, as long as the injury is not caused through voluntarily subjecting yourself to an abnormal risk of injury during the recess.

Read further information about eligibility criteria.

What employers need to consider and address when arranging working from home

It's good practice to formalise the working from home arrangement as well as identifying and managing WHS risks before the work commences. Refer to Health and safety checklist for working from home (PDF, 0.13 MB).

Policy and procedures recommendations:

  • formalising a workplace policy and procedure for working from home that has clear guidelines and is easily accessible by workers
  • approving working from home on a temporary/permanent and case by case basis as it may not be suitable for all job roles and situations.
  • having your employees assess their home-based work area using a Health and safety checklist for working from home (PDF, 0.13 MB).
  • establishing a reporting process for early intervention – injuries, hazards, incidents and changes in circumstances
  • having a system in place that provides adequate information / instruction, consultation and a monitoring and review process to ensure worker's health, safety and wellbeing.

Equipment, IT and insurance recommendations:

  • considering the provision of a system to secure information as per workplace policy
  • ensuring workstation layout and equipment is appropriate and minimises risks of injury
  • considering the costs associated with the home-based work set up, and who is responsible to provide and maintain the equipment
  • checking insurance arrangements for items employees use for the purpose of working from home.

Consultation and job design recommendations:

  • identifying what specific work can be performed
  • establishing boundaries between work and non-work time to reduce risk of fatigue and stress
  • agreeing on how to keep in touch with the workplace to reduce the impact of working in isolation.

Further information and resources

Relevant legislation