Homeworking requires “management and coordination to ensure that employees … are not put at risk from longer-term health and safety hazards or other issues that can emerge”.  Accordingly, NUI Galway as an employer and its employees will co-operate in the following arrangements so that employee’s home workstations are assessed and issues appropriately addressed in accordance with the Health & Safety Authority’s Guidance on Working from Home for Employers and Employee.

The Health and Safety Authority published Guidance on Working from Home for Employers and Employee what does this mean for NUI Galway?

The University as the employer will address the safe set up and assessment of employee’s home workstations by trained DSE Assessors.  Employees will first self-assess their workstations using this Home Workstation Self-Assessment Form.  In this way employees can first directly deal with any issues they can sort themselves.  The self-assessment process also sets the priority in which the Unit’s workstations need to be assessed by the DSE Assessors. This two-step process is in accordance with the HSA’s Guidance on Working from Home.

When do these Home Workstation Assessment Procedures apply?

These apply now and are just for the period that NUI Galway staff are working remotely because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Home workstation assessments are to be carried on employee’s workstations, what is the situation for students?

These guidelines only apply to NUI Galway employees including researchers who are employees.  In the case of students, the University duty is to provide computer chairs, equipment, etc. in the workplace that complies with the relevant Work Regulations but this does not extend to student’s homes. 

What is the role of the Head of Unit in the Home Workstation Assessments?

The Head of Unit’s role is to oversee that the assessments are carried out and that the necessary improvements identified are actually implemented.  They do this in conjunction with the employee’s relevant Line Manager/Principal Investigator.

  1. Address any workstation issues that the Unit needs to facilitate.
  2. Keep a register of equipment borrowed (or Safety Co-ordinator or other designated staff members on Head’s behalf)
  3. Ensure additional DSE assessors are trained where required (and attendance at homeworking refresher training).
  4. If it is not possible to address the recommendations of the DSE Assessment, then the Head of Unit/Line Manager may need to look at other options including:
  • An Occupational Health Assessment or
  • The employee may be scheduled to return to campus when it is safe to do so in line with Government and Public Health advice.

Who has access to an Employee's self-assessment or the DSE Assessor's assessment?

Staff completing the self-assessment should understand that this assessment is held on a central system so that  Unit Safety Coordinators and Unit DSE Assessors can access this relevant assessment information.  The form is designed to gather standard information and employees should not complete any sensitive information on the self-assessment form.  If there is a need to report anything sensitive it should be separately communicated to their Unit Safety Co-ordinator. 

What is the role of the Employee in the Home Workstation Assessments?

  1. Complete the online Remote DSE Workstation self-assessment form.
  2. The employee ticks the option to receive a copy of the self-assessment on completion.
  3. Deal with any workstation issues they can themselves;
  4. The employee will take responsibility for bringing the equipment to their home and returning it when it is no longer required for their work at the remote location.
  5. Co-operate in having their home workstation assessed remotely by the Unit DSE assessor.  This will be done over their phone or by providing 2 photos of their workstation to the Assessor straight after the assessment as required “visual clues”.  These photos will be deleted directly afterwards by the assessor.
  6. Following the workstation assessment, the employee will discuss and seek to implement the recommendations of the DSE Assessor.

What is the role of the Unit Safety Co-ordinator in the Home Workstation Assessments?

The Safety Co-ordinator acts a support to the Head of Unit and the DSE Assessors in addressing the safe set up and assessment of employee’s home workstations by Assessors.
Other relevant line managers, PIs, etc. are to be involved.
There are six main actions for the Safety Co-ordinator to carry-out:-

  1. Advise all Unit staff to complete the online self-assessment form.
  2. Identify self-assessments that need action by the Safety Co-ordinator.
  3. The employee’s self-assessed workstations are prioritised on the basis of the scores and responses to essential questions.  It is on this basis that the Safety Co-ordinator forwards these assessments to the Unit DSE Assessor(s).
  4. Take note of the completion of this risk assessment as part of the Unit safety statement/risk assessment’s record.
  5. Organise completion of remaining Unit staff DSE assessments.
  6. Review all assessments to verify that necessary “employer” actions are completed.

Specific Office 365 Guidance has been issued to Unit Safety Co-ordinators.

What is the role of the Unit DSE/Computer Workstation Assessor in the Home Workstation Assessments?

Having completed the additional home workstation refresher training, the Unit DSE/Computer Workstation Assessor on behalf of the Head of Unit carries out the remote assessment of employee’s home workstations.  This is carried out on a Unit basis and the workload implications for the Assessor needs to be agreed with their line manager before the assessments start.
There are six main steps involved:-

  1. Receive the prioritised self-assessments which the Safety Co-ordinator forwards.
  2. Review the employee’s self-assessment record in SharePoint.
  3. Organise the DSE assessment with the employee which is carried out online.
  4. Record this assessment in SharePoint including the deletion of any photographs.
  5. Carry out remaining employee assessments (as forwarded by Safety Co-ordinator).
  6. Keep the Head of Unit updated on progress.

Specific Office 365 Guidance has been issued to Unit DSE/Computer Assessors.

Is there funding available to Units/Schools to buy required equipment?

There is no central budget available to purchase equipment. Units/Schools will need to purchase any equipment necessary from their own budgets.  

What if an employee’s work chair is broken?

Employees needing an adjustable computer chair should be facilitated by their manager to bring their work chair home safely, as far as possible.  If their chair is broken Buildings & Estates should be contacted for a similar replacement chair.  The employee should contact their Unit Buildings Liaison who will log a ticket with Buildings & Estates.  Please see Buildings & Estates: Chair link – extract below:-

Request for Operator Chair and/or Desk for Home Working

The University position is that it is acceptable to borrow equipment e.g. chair, PC etc., as long as the employee can move it safely.  Any equipment being borrowed requires management approval and staff must undertake to return the equipment.   Desks are not considered items that can be moved easily.   If staff members cannot work without their office desk then they should be prioritised for return to campus working.

Why do I need to do the Homeworking Assessment over my phone or provide two photographs to the assessor?

The assessor is carrying out the assessment on behalf of the Head of Unit/School.  The Homeworking Guidelines require that in completing the assessment online that the assessor is provided with “sufficient visual clues” to provide an accurate assessment.  The option is either you can do the assessment over the phone so that the assessor can see your set up that way or send on two photos giving a representative view of the set-up of your workstation.  Any photos provided are deleted by the assessors in accordance with GDPR requirements, as soon as they are viewed by the assessor and verified that all is in order.  No photographs are retained as they are not necessary.

What should an employee do if they have particular pain or other symptoms associated with their home computer work?

The Unit Safety Co-ordinator emails the DSE Assessors report for the staff member who reports pain which may be associated with their current home workstation setup to the Human Resources Office employee.relations@nuigalway.ie for review.  A referral to an Occupational Health Physician may be scheduled for the staff member for an assessment.  In the interim if there are obvious improvements that can be made they should be done e.g. to use an adjustable operators chair in place of a solid kitchen chair, under caution that if the employee’s condition worsens that they should revert back to the original arrangement.

What if an employee needs a specialist chair?

Please see Buildings & Estates: Chair link re. standard office chairs.  Where an employee has pain or other symptoms, which may require a specialist chair, etc., the employee should be referred via Human Resources for an Occupational Health Assessment.
See also previous question.

What other Information Resources are there for Home Workstation Assessments?

Where can I find COVID-19 Staff Remote Working FAQs?

Staff Remote Working FAQ's can be found at this link.