Remote Worker Code Starts January 2014

Remote workerUnder the model Work Health and Safety Legislation, employers with remote or isolated workers are required to have in place processes for effective communication with remote and isolated workers by January 2014.

The Model Safework Australia Code of Practice Managing the Work Environment and Facilities provides guidance for the WHS Regulation Section 48 requirement for employers to manage the risks associated with remote or isolated work.

Remote or isolated work is defined as:

“… work that is isolated from the assistance of other people because of the location, time or nature of the work being done. Assistance from other people includes rescue, medical assistance and emergency services.”

Not sure if this applies to you? Under the Code remote or isolated work, in relation to a worker, means work that is isolated from the assistance of other persons because of location, time or the nature of the work.

This can include the more obvious situations such as workers in a remote mining camp site. However what might be surprising is that the definition also includes workers in less obvious situations such as security officers working night shift in the city by themselves. As you can see it covers a broad range of jobs and industries, from farmers to real estate agents to individuals working from home or teleworking.

Under the code a worker may be isolated even if other people are close by, for example, a person working from home or a cleaner working by themselves at night in a city office building. In other cases, a worker may be far away from populated areas, for example, on a farm.

The Code of Practice requires consultation with workers and the implementation of clear strategies and policies

Where an employer has workers in remote or isolated work environments they need to undertake a risk assessment identify the risks the worker(s) may be exposed to.

Next the employer needs to demonstrate effective controls for these risks are in place and working. For example, a community nurse working in home care at night could be considered an isolated worker. In this case, the nurse may require some form of emergency alarm to enable access to assistance.

The next step is to identify what can be done to control any risks which aren’t already being adequately managed. Include workers in the risk assessment and control identification processes to ensure no important information is missed. Benchmarking and information sharing with others in your industry can also be helpful.

Finally, ensure all workers have a complete understanding of the work processes and risk controls relating to the remote or isolated work. One of the most cost effective ways to achieve this obligation and meet the requirements of the code is to add training into your safety inductions and include in all refresher courses for workers.

If you are interested in talking to us about our InductPro online inductions call us on 1300 773801.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

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