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Homeworking – some guiding principles

What work activities are going to be undertaken ?

  • These should be risk assessed using the same as if they were performed at the employer’s premises.
  • What work equipment (if any) will be used ? These may include computers, phones, desks and chairs to name some of the more common ones. The employer is responsible for maintaining any items they provide .

Are there procedures in place to deal with foreseeable emergencies?

  • Does the employer always know when the employee is working from home?
  • Can the employee always be contacted when working from home?
  • What happens if an employee can’t be contacted as pre-arranged? Is the next of kin the next person who should be contacted?

Other useful references:


The Health and Safety at Work Act – 40 years on

I know many have gone into print on this topic – most with more status and stature than me.

However my humble thoughts are:

  • It is a  ground breaking piece of legislation; it has effectively deregulated health and safety. Its greatest strength and weakness is that it allows employers to determine what constitutes a safe place of work, safe work equipment and safe use and storage of chemicals and materials. If they get it wrong there are consequences though!
  • This principle of deregulation has been widely admired and copied by many parts of the works since then – including Europe, Australia and Malaysia.
  • The effectiveness of the legislation is such that in 1974 the UK suffered 651 work related fatalities. By 2013/14 this number had dropped to 133 or approximately 20% of the 1974 figure. (However it would be wrong to entirely attribute this drop to the Act. Much of it has been due to the changing type of work we all undertake.)
  • Very significantly and sadly though, there has not been a commensurate drop in deaths from occupational related diseases. They remain virtually unchanged at around 15,000 per year.


The challenge now for legislators, the HSE, employers and the workforce is to substantially reduce this number. Presently two groups continue to suffer as a consequence of this statistic –   the families of those who die , and the NHS who are required to provide otherwise unnecessary treatments. Work place hygiene and employee occupational health must be given greater emphasis so that this burden is reduced on us all, including the NHS and social security budgets.