15 Jan 2024

Legislation vs guidance – the rules to follow for Remote Working Safety

Remote working – work activities undertaken away from the employer’s normal work premises – should be a healthy and productive environment for everyone.

As an employer, how do you know which aspects of health and safety are bound by law, and which are non-enforceable guidance?

In essence, employers are responsible for implementing legislation – rules bound by law - and guidance is the tool to assist with this.

There are various acts and pieces of legislation that employers must adhere to, most notably the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act(1), which sets out the rights and obligations of both employers and employees in relation to health and safety at work. It is the responsibility of the employer to comply with these laws, whether employees work remotely or at your premises. You must assess any risks and ensure appropriate controls are in place to safeguard employees at work.

According to the Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992(2), employers must legally also:

  • Do a DSE workstation assessment

  • Reduce risks, including making sure workers take breaks from DSE work

  • Provide an eye test if a worker asks for one

  • Provide training and information for workers

Again, these laws are applicable whether your employees are based at your premises or working remotely.

The HSA in Ireland has published specific Occupational Safety and Health Guidance on Remote Working(3), which details a three-step checklist you can use to ensure safety, health and welfare when working off-site:

Step 1: Work activity
This includes a record of employee information, details of the role they will be undertaking remotely, and any equipment they will need for this.

Step 2: An assessment of hazards
Covering employees’ work environments, workstations and awareness around communication, consultation and accident reporting policies.

Step 3: Regular monitoring and communication
It is important that employees have easy access to any information or notes regarding workplace health, safety and wellbeing, and that records are managed effectively. Communication is key with remote workers to identify risks and help early intervention before issues arise.

If you need support in breaking down the legislation, discovering how it applies to your business activities and employees’ working set-ups, then please do not hesitate to contact us, and a member of the team will guide you through the process using our dedicated platform.

Complete our contact form to find out more.

  1. https://revisedacts.lawreform.ie/eli/2005/act/10/front/revised/en/html

  2. The Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/2792/contents

  3. https://www.hsa.ie/eng/topics/remote_working/remote_working_guidance.pdf

Other resources:

  1. Remote Working Checklist for Employers: https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/publications/remote-working-checklist-for-employers.html

  2. Occupational Safety and Health Guidance on Remote Working Checklist: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/topics/remote_working/remote_working_checklist.pdf

  3. HSA IE’s A Short Guide to The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Safety_and_Health_Management/Short_Guide_to_SHWWA_2005.pdf

  4. HSA IE’s A guide to Risk Assessments and Safety Statements: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/publications_and_forms/publications/safety_and_health_management/guide_to_risk_assessments_and_safety_statements.pdf

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