Thursday, November 23, 2006

Working away from the normal work place

People may have a location away from their main base for some or all of their work (e.g. working from home) or may travel away from base to work (e.g. to visit clients). In both cases, the problem is that it is more difficult to know what hazards are going to be encountered and hence to assess risk and implement controls. Also, travelling is a risk in its own right.

Issues to consider include

* Where people work at a separate location on a regular basis, this location should be subject to the same assessments and controls as those for the normal work space. If the work is hazardous, the additional controls necessary may make working away from base uneconomic. Most work will be of low hazard, and setting up suitable office space and work stations will be the main concern.
* Where people visit sites controlled by another organisation, it is difficult to impose any further controls. In this case the employer should take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety standards at the site are adequate, and to impose restrictions on what the employee can and cannot do. The employee should be competent in assessing their own risks and know to stop work if they consider it to be unsafe.
* There are some steps employers can take to minimise the risk of travelling. These include making sure vehicles are in good condition, providing driver training (e.g. defensive driving) and planning routes in advance. Policies for use of mobile phones and other devices (e.g. satellite navigation) should be developed.

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