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Advice for staff working at home due to COVID-19


The only work-related activities that you can carry out in a home setting are those you would usually carry out in an office on campus (this could include teaching preparation, marking etc). Work-related activities you cannot carry out in a home setting include (although this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Laboratory style activities - including handling and using chemicals, biological or radioactive materials.

  • Analysing samples – rock/ soil/ water etc.

  • Workshop-style activities - including equipment modifications, making equipment, wood working or electronics.

  • Storage of samples (collected from any fieldwork) in fridges or freezers that contain (or would normally contain) food.

  • Activities that may present an additional fire risk in a domestic setting (e.g. soldering, welding etc).

If you need any further advice, please contact your Health and Safety Manager.

Check for unexpected hazards

Offices and other workplaces are set up to ensure work can be carried out safely. At home, things may not be quite so straightforward. Make a mental note of possible hazards - trailing laptop wires etc – and try to remove or reduce these risks as much as possible.

If you do have a work-related accident at home, please contact your line manager who can report it following their usual systems or by completing an incident report online.

Set up your ‘workstation’

We recognise that your living room etc may have become your ‘office space’ and it’s still not always easy to work in these conditions. Here are a few tips to help you make it as comfortable and safe as possible: 

  • Use the Diagrams in the document under Downloads at the bottom of this webpage as guidance on how to set up your computer/ laptop. You may not be able to set things up exactly as described, but if you follow the key points, you’ll be off to a good start.

  • See the Guide to healthy laptop use attached to the bottom of this webpage for more information. When using a laptop, place it on a firm surface (e.g. a table – and/ or a docking station if you have one) rather than a sofa edge or pillow. Try to use a full-sized keyboard and mouse if possible and angle the screen to minimise any reflections.

  • If you are experiencing significant issues in relation to your DSE set up, please contact your line manager. A new process is now in place so your line manager, Health and Safety Manager and Occupational Health can look at ways forward.

  • Electrical Safety: all University electrical equipment is usually tested regularly (known as PAT testing) and labelled to show it is safe. During the covid situation, some equipment may run past its current PAT test date; the Government’s restrictions on social distancing / access to campus etc make it hard to retest. So, we have automatically extended the current PAT testing certificate on all University-provided electrical equipment so long as the user carries out some basic checks to ensure it is safe. The extension will be reviewed in August 2021.

  • Basic user checks on IT equipment: before turning your IT equipment on, look for any trailing wires which might trip people up. Next quickly check that plugs, leads and outer covers are undamaged with no burn marks or stains which might suggest overheating. If you find any faults or damage, then don’t use the equipment. If it’s University IT equipment, tell your line manager.

  • Remote working expenses (covid): with prior approval from your Head of School/Service, the University will reimburse up to £40 on small IT equipment (e.g. cabling, headsets etc) you need to work from home.

Eye tests

Staff who need an eye test should go to a Bayfields optician practice (for locations see the Bayfields website) and take your staff ID with you. Bayfields’ staff will explain more about the detail when you book your appointment.

Take a break

Remember that it’s really important to take regular breaks regularly to avoid fatigue.

  • At work you’d probably take natural breaks to attend meetings, deliver teaching, collect printing, make a drink, have discussions with colleagues/ students etc.

  • At home, it might be tempting to work for longer periods but it’s really important to break off your screen work to get a drink, move around and stretch regularly.

  • If you're struggling with aches and pains try using this add on with Microsoft packages to dictate text using speech recognition. 

  • To avoid any short-term discomfort from working on computers at home, there is lots of helpful advice on the internet including postural exercises demonstrated by Sports and Physical Activity.

  • We also recognise that you may be juggling trying to work with caring responsibilities. It is important that you discuss how to maintain your work /life balance with your line manager - including when you are not going to take calls/ answer emails.

Keep in touch

  • Now it’s more important than ever to keep in touch with your colleagues, teammates and managers. Many of us will share similar concerns or experiences, and talking to people may help you feel more connected.

  • Please keep in touch with key people in your area as well as any direct reports / managers in your School/ Service.

  • If anything is worrying you, discuss it with your line manager/ supervisor as soon as possible.

Advice and support

If you have specific questions around health and safety please contact: