Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer may have banned working from home for Yahoo Executives this week but, in general, the signs are that the number of people working from home is on the increase in the UK, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

A total of 59% of employers who responded to a CBI survey in 2011 were offering teleworking, up from 13% in 2006.

The Government currently puts the number of home workers in the UK at well over three million and is encouraging employers to be flexible as to where people work.

As a definition, home workers are people who do the work they are employed to do either at home, or in other premises of their choosing. Home working can have a major impact on productivity and employee engagement, whilst also enabling companies to manage their carbon footprint supporting corporate social responsibility initiatives.

However, many of the hazards that could compromise health and safety while working at home will be the same as in the workplace – but there will also be additional issues to consider.

One aspect of home working that many people fail to appreciate is that, in most cases, the employee will be working alone.

Employers of ‘lone workers’, or staff that work outside of normal office hours, are today much more aware of the need to assess the potential risks.

But home workers also face hazards due to working alone. What if the individual becomes ill during the working day? Or falls down the stairs? How would colleagues be alerted to the situation? And importantly, who would ensure that help was sent?

Before any member of staff starts officially working from home a formal risk assessment of their environment should be carried out, with the view that the risk to the homeworker is the same as to any lone worker.

If appropriate the use of a lone worker safety system to check in/ out with colleagues should be negotiated, alongside new employment contracts.

There is guidance for employers, employees and self-employed people on the HSE website:

If you would like a free trial of Lookout Call, a mobile based lone worker safety system that costs as little as £2 per month, please get in touch now.