Health and safety guidance when home/remote working
Updated on 5 June 2020
Many staff will be working from home for significantly greater periods of time than usual. Find out about steps you can take to make your home set up as safe and comfortable as possible.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many staff will be working from home and doing so for significantly greater periods of time than usual. Such work will inevitably involve a very significant amount of computer-related activity.
University duty of care
The University still has a duty of care under health and safety law in relation to people home/remote working, but understands that the nature of the situation facing workers means that some compromises will inevitably have to be made relative to what would ordinarily be put in place for remote workers.
The University will do what it can within the restrictions of the current situation to ensure that workers can continue to undertake productive and safe work from home.
Not everyone will have a dedicated home working area set up already, but most people should have areas around their homes that can be utilised to provide an acceptable home working environment, albeit with some limitations.
Accepting these limitations and putting in place compensatory measures such as increased rest breaks and interchanging typing activities with participation in online meetings or other activities means that staff can ensure their welfare while working from home.
The guidance below is intended to assist staff to achieve an acceptable home working environment.
Any staff who experience issues while working from home should speak with their line manager or contact Safety Services at the earliest opportunity.
Your home workspace
Setting up your workspace at home is essentially the same as for your office.
Your workspace should include a:
- table / desk
- laptop or PC
- separate monitor if available
- peripherals such as mouse and keyboard
However, it is important to realise that you may not have exactly the same standard of equipment as you would have at work.
Set up your workspace
Find a place with sufficient space to set up a working zone. Ensure there is sufficient light, ventilation, and no trailing cords.
You can use this poster to make sure you have enough room in your workspace: Know your ergonomic working zone and the ideal seated position.
You might also find it helpful to refer to the display screen equipment assessment form. Remember not all elements may be achieved in a home working environment.
Check your electrical equipment is still safe to use. Do not overload sockets or daisy chain extension leads.
Keep regular contact with your line manager and team to keep them informed you are safe and well. The University provides various mediums for online communication including Microsoft Teams and mobile phones.
Specialist equipment from your office
If you have been provided with specialist equipment (by Occupational Health or Disability Services) it may be possible to arrange for this to be available at your home.
Speak to your line manager, and complete the Category 1 Equipment form providing as much information as possible for your request to be considered.
We need to consider any requests within the current government guidelines on social distancing, essential travel, and protecting on-site staff.
If you have recently developed symptoms or conditions related to your use of computers or displays please discuss this with your line manager, Health and Safety Adviser, or Occupational Health.
Chairs, monitors, and keyboards
If your setup is not ideal, you should speak with your line manager and use the checklist at the bottom of this page to see if you can identify ways of improving this.
If you and your line manager identify a need for additional equipment to support home working you can request from the following list of standard IT equipment
- 20"-23" standard HP monitor and cables
- laptop docking station
- standard keyboard and mouse
- height adjustable office chair
- standing desk conversion kit (limited number and required additional evidence of need)
These are from a central source (not your own desk) and will be delivered by courier to your home. Use the Category 2 Equipment form to request these items. Your line manager will be asked for approval.
The University will not cover the cost of similar or alternative items purchased online and claimed though expenses.
Collecting my own personal equipment / belongings
At the moment (5 June) it is not possible for you to retrieve your own belongings as almost all buildings remain locked. We will let you know when the situation changes, in compliance with all relevant government regulations. We do not expect this to be possible for several more weeks.
Incidents, near misses, and ill health should be reported in the usual way using the reporting form.
Breaks and wellbeing
It is important to take regular breaks and maintain positive wellbeing when working:
- take a micro-break (2-3 minutes) every 20 minutes
- take a break (5 minutes) every hour e.g. make a hot drink or walk around the room.
- do simple workstation exercises
- keep hydrated and drink water
- enjoy healthy snacks and avoid sugary or fatty foods
- stay connected and maintain social connections with your team, family, friends and community
You may need to take more breaks or alternate the type of work you are undertaking relative to how you would work normally.
It is quite normal to feel anxious or stressed during these situations. Contact your line manager or Health and Safety Adviser for confidential help.
Training and downloads
The following downloads show how you can set up your workspace for more comfortable working: