Health & safety when working remotely

Working remotely during COVID-19

The University of Wollongong is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. The University’s commitment extends to work completed in a traditional workplace or an agile workplace such as working from home or a remote workstation away from a designated UOW office.

The current coronavirus (COVID-19) situation means that Work, Health and Safety (WHS) need to streamline this process to ensure capability as well as safety. Noting this is not the formal arrangement process but an interim arrangement that is agreed between the supervisor and employee.

WHS working remotely FAQs

All arrangements should be discussed with and approved by your supervisor prior to being undertaken.

 

WHS recommend the following items as a guide to what is deemed best practice during this interim period:

  • Review and use the Agile Workplace Arrangement Form as a best practice guide to set up your home workstation.
  • There is NO NEED to complete the form and send to the WHS Unit unless you need assistance (i.e. employees who have an injury or illness).
  • Laptop to be used as a monitor only that is raised to eye level.
  • Mouse & keyboard to be used with a laptop. It is not recommended to use a laptop without these items.
  • Access resources on the working remotely page to improve the workstation set up, IMTS assistance, mental health resources, and supervisor/management resources.

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our University community remains the number one priority in all aspects of our response to this pandemic. To this end, we are facilitating access to equipment for staff to establish safe and practical remote work environments in their homes. Human Resources and Facilities Management (FMD) have worked together to streamline the process for staff needing to take work equipment off-site temporarily, and for the loan of exam desks for those in need.

  • Any UOW equipment removed from its normal UOW workplace is required to be recorded via an asset register coordinated by the supervisor of your area. A simple Excel sheet detailing the equipment taken and by whom will suffice. Please take care of any equipment relocated and ensure it is returned in good condition.
  • Transport of a staff member's existing UOW furniture (chair, monitors, footrest, desk risers etc.) to the remote location can be completed by the staff member in the majority of cases and poses a low to moderate risk of injury.
  • Review any possible risks before undertaking the removal of equipment. The use of lifts and bringing a vehicle closer to the building are suggested to minimise risk.
  • Asking an appropriate colleague capable of assisting would also be advised. Please ensure your supervisor is notified, and physical distancing measures are considered.
  • If a staff member has an injury/illness concern, WHS recommend completing and forwarding the Agile Workplace Arrangement form to WHS via whs-admin@uow.edu.au to discuss potential options. Photos of the remote workstation arrangement may be required to assist WHS in providing accurate advice.
  • If a staff member wishes to purchase their own equipment for a home office, it may be possible to claim these items back on tax, per Australian Tax Office advice.
  • IMTS has provided information on the use of IMTS working remotely arrangements. Please note that while equipment is located off-campus, staff are responsible for any damages and required to return the equipment when notified.
  • Where a staff member already has approval to work remotely and has an appropriate working from home setup, there is NO requirement for the 'Agile Workplace Arrangement Form' to be completed.

Borrowing exam desks

UOW can also loan exam desks to those staff who do not have an appropriate remote workstation. FMD will check out exam desks from Building 31 and keep a record of borrowers. Please contact the FMD service centre on 4221 3217 or by lodging a BEIMS ticket. Staff ID (or photocopy) will be required to facilitate pick up of equipment. One person can carry a desk.

If these options are not appropriate and there remain concerns over a remote workstation, please complete the Agile Workplace Arrangement form and send it to WHS via whs-admin@uow.edu.au to discuss recommendations for working remotely. Photos of the remote workstation area may be required to assist WHS in providing accurate advice.

If there are concerns about an existing injury or an inability to provide a safe working environment under the agile workstation arrangement, please complete the Agile workplace arrangement form for WHS to review. In some cases, pictures of the home work area may be required to assist WHS in providing advice.

UOW employees looking to work remotely who have a disability should initially liaise with the supervisor.

WHS are available on +61 2 4221 3931 or whs-admin@uow.edu.au should further assistance be required.

In regards to staff mental health resources, please note that from 24th March 2020 the Universities Employee Assistance Program, facilitated by Lifework’s will be implementing a temporary suspension of face to face counselling services. Clinical services will remain available via telephone or video. The health and well-being of UOW staff is a priority. It is still business as usual, just in a slightly different way. The contact number remains 1300 361 008.

It’s essential that staff stay connected with our teams and the University through the use of items such as Webex Teams and further IMTS resources to support each other at this challenging time.

Additional resources

Mental Health / EAP Resources
How to set up your workstation at home (UOW KnowHow)
Office ergonomic guidelines (pdf)
Stretch at work
Avoid injuries (PDF)
Person with bandaged hand Workers compensation