As remote work has been adopted by numerous employers after the pandemic, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) provides a new interactive online risk assessment tool (OiRA) to support both employers and teleworkers in ensuring safer and healthier home workspaces. The OiRA tool for telework is not specific to particular sectors and can be easily used regardless of the field of activity of each employer.
In light of the observed trend of companies and workers neglecting health and safety in work conducted from home, at the beginning of 2022, the European Agency for Occupational Safety and Health provided employers with a questionnaire model for teleworkers to complete in order to become aware of their working conditions. In this regard, multiple aspects related to inadequate working conditions were identified, such as incorrect posture, inadequate lighting, poor room air quality, etc. The purpose of the questionnaire provided by EU-OSHA was twofold, involving both raising awareness of working conditions on the part of employees and notifying employers of health and safety aspects at work.
Currently, the new tool has been adopted following the model already implemented in other areas by EU-OSHA. It can be integrated into existing sector-specific OiRA tools at the EU level or can be adapted by national partners to meet the specific needs of different countries and sectors. Additionally, the tool can be considered applicable even to employees in Romania working under individual remote work contracts, even though the European Agency considers the concept of “telework,” rather than work from home.
In concrete terms, the OiRA tool is structured into two modules, with the first supporting employers (by generating risk declarations based on policies) and the second addressing the situation of teleworkers (by providing guidance on occupational safety and health, as well as potential psychosocial risks associated with remote work). Furthermore, it is necessary to draw attention to the employer’s obligation to conduct a risk assessment for remote workers so that risks can be identified and appropriate measures for prevention and risk elimination can be taken (an action plan).
In this regard, both the equipment used for telework and the remote work environment and organization must adhere to certain ergonomic requirements, such as positioning the work screen in front of the person’s head, ensuring a proper neck position, or maintaining a comfortable temperature at home, etc.
Consequently, completing the OiRA tool for remote work serves as a solid foundation for assessing the risks associated with remote work.
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