WorkSafeBC OHSR Part 4 Sections 20 – 23 outline the regulations surrounding working alone. In light of the current health climate and spread of COVID-19, many employers are now asking their workers to stay home and work remotely, which places them in a situation where they are considered to be working alone. While this may have been common practice for some workplaces, it is new territory for many.
For those employers that are facing this situation for the first time, it is important that you take extra steps and considerations for your workers’ health and safety. Regardless of whether your employees are working from home or at your workplace, you are still responsible for their health and safety.
In order to address this responsibility, employers should develop a basic health and safety policy for working from home. This policy should be clearly communicated to workers so they are aware of what their roles, responsibilities, and duties are when working from home. This policy should clearly address several different aspects including, but not limited to:
- Workers’ roles, duties and responsibilities when working from home
- Workers must be aware that while they may be working from home, they are still required to report any workplace injuries and to follow safe work procedures
- The requirement for each employee to conduct an assessment of their workplace and to report this to their manager
- The requirement to assess and document evacuation protocols from their workplace in the event of an emergency and how to contact the employer in the event that this happens
- Check in procedures between employees and supervisors
The implementation of check-in procedures will help check in on the well-being of your employees and provide an additional level of support during this time. The check-in procedures should be documented within the Working from Home Policy. These procedures should detail how frequently workers should be checking in with their supervisor and the means by which these check ins will occur (e.g., phone call, text message, email). In addition to the regular check-ins throughout the workday, employees must check out with their supervisor at the end of the day to ensure that they have safely finished their workday.
Traditionally, Working Alone and Working from Home Polices will have been developed prior to having employees work remotely. However, given the COVID-19 pandemic and rapidly changing situation, many employers will have already requested employees work from home. It is important that even if your employees are already working from home that you establish this policy and communicate it to your workers.
Arcose Consulting Ltd. is a leader in occupational health and safety serving commercial, industrial and institutional clients in British Columbia. If you wish to contact us regarding this post or to inquire about our services, please do so at [email protected] or 604.372.2502.