Health and Safety for Home Workers

Health and safety for homeworkers can be a little different than for employees at an employer’s base, but it should be remembered that employers have a duty of care for all their employees, and the requirements of all of the health and safety legislation apply to homeworkers.

It is the employer’s responsibility to carry out a risk assessment to check whether the proposed home workplace’s ventilation, temperature, lighting, space, chair, desk and computer, or any other kind of work station, and floor are suitable for the tasks the homeworker will be asked to do.

The risk assessment should also seek to identify some or all of following areas:


Trip hazards

The workstation vicinity should be clear of obstructions such as trailing cables.

Electrical hazards

Ensure that electrical equipment and fittings are in a working condition free from damage such as frayed cables.  You should also understand the safe usage guidelines for any equipment you supply.

Fire hazards

Overloaded extension cords and dust-clogged heat vents are a common fire risk. Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers should be provided if necessary. A fire escape should be identified and kept free of obstruction.

Manual handling

If the employee needs to move work equipment, it is imperative that they undergo proper training to minimise the risk of injury.


The employee should have easy access to a suitable first aid kit and contact details of who to call in the event of an accident.

Training needs

For example, if the employee will need to lift heavy boxes or move equipment, manual handling training will be necessary.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Such as wrist rests and eye strain glasses.

Special needs

Is any assistive equipment needed for disabled employees

Other home-specific risks

Such as the presence of children and pets.

The employer is also responsible for the equipment it supplies, but it is the responsibility of the employee to rectify any flaws in the home highlighted by the assessment.  It is advisable that the employer should not allow homeworking until any problem has been resolved.

Once the home workplace is passed as safe, it is the responsibility of the homeworker to keep it that way and take reasonable care of their health and safety.  However, they should tell their employer if any precautions turn out to be

Employee mental health

Employers also owe a duty of care to identify and minimise the risk of harm to an employee’s mental health.

Some workers flourish when working from home.  For others, the psychological impact of isolated work can be insidious.

It is more difficult for employers to recognise stress, anxiety, and mental health problems in remote workers.

Developing active communication channels and a means of maintaining virtual contact – such as through regular video calls and messaging platforms – can improve mental health in addition to productivity.  Encouraging employees to leave video or audio channels open throughout the day can help emulate an office environment.

Employees should be informed about healthy work patterns.  For example, research by the World Health Organization found that taking regular breaks and incorporating exercise in between work sessions was beneficial for both physical and mental health.