Workers’ Compensation for Telecommuters
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are working from home. But even before the pandemic, telecommuting has become a useful tool for employers. According to the US Bureau of Statistics, around 16% of the total workforce now work remotely at least part time. The flexibility that working from home provides can be very attractive to both employers and employees alike.
Studies have shown that telecommuters enjoy a higher level of productivity and a decreased level of stress. The cost advantages are also attractive, since the need for an extensive work wardrobe is reduced, and even more savings are realized in reduced car fuel and maintenance. Working from home offers a flexibility that cannot be matched in an office setting. Employers find that telecommuters are more cost effective due to reduced office space.
Even with all of the advantages, employers have the responsibility to make working from home as safe for employees as if they were working in an office building.
Responsibilities of Employers to Protect Worker Safety
An employee is responsible for a worker’s injury or illness if it arises out of the course of employment, no matter the location where the work is taking place. Courts have found that the employer’s lack of supervision at the employee’s home-based office plays no role in liability. Home-based injuries while on the clock tend to be less severe, but injuries can still lead to loss of work time, hospital or doctor charges and a painful recovery.
Employers Can Protect Their Employees
Employers can mitigate the chances of employee injury while in the work-at-home space. Companies should work with their Human Resources department to develop a list of criteria that should be followed to ensure a safe workspace. Some important steps are:
- Create a telecommuting policy that outlines employer’s expectations.
- Establish guidelines for working from home. Some of these guidelines could include requiring a dedicated office space and proper training when it comes to setting up equipment.
- If possible, conduct home office checks. If personally visiting the homes of workers is not feasible, perhaps conduct a Zoom meeting to check in.
- Enforce regular working times, including meals and breaks.
Employees Can Protect Themselves
No one wants to become injured while on the job. Taking responsible measures to protect yourself from injuries is important to a productive telecommuting position. It is impossible to protect yourself from every danger, but by following the steps below, your chances of injury are reduced.
- Set up an ergonomic workstation. Use a high quality rolling chair with comfortable padding. Position monitors correctly to reduce neck and eye strain. Concentrate on proper posture.
- Get up and move. Make sure you stay active during the day. Get up, stretch and move around for a minute. Go for a walk around the block on your lunch hour.
- Guard against falls. Clear walkways from clutter, guard against distractions while you are walking from one room to another, clean up any spills that pose a slipping hazard and be careful if you are walking with a heavy load.
- Stay connected. Keep in regular contact with coworkers and your employer. Share with them any issues you are facing while working from home.
Even with the most careful planning, accidents can happen. Workers’ compensation claims vary from state to state, so it is important to seek appropriate counsel to assist you in this process. If your accident occurred in the Atlanta, GA or Montgomery, AL area, contact the Law office of Dwayne L. Brown to schedule an initial consultation. We can guide you through the workers’ compensation process, and help you get the relief you deserve. You sacrifice for your employer, and your health and safety are important.
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