Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their employees, and this responsibility extends beyond the traditional office setting. It is crucial for employers to take measures to prevent injuries when employees are working from home or in mobile-working environments. If you sustain an injury during your working hours at home, you may still be eligible for workers’ compensation.
When working from home, it is important to maintain open communication with your employer to stay informed about any safety concerns related to your work environment. Thankfully, there are numerous technologies available that enable you to stay connected and prioritize a positive culture of workplace safety.
Workers compensation for work-related injuries that happen at home
If you experience an injury while working remotely as part of your job or while engaging in any work-related activity, and you have obtained your employer’s permission (whether explicitly or implicitly) to work from home, you should typically qualify for workers’ compensation.
Recent cases have demonstrated that incidents occurring while working from home are covered by WorkCover in a manner similar to those that would be covered if they had happened at your employer’s physical premises. For instance, if you sustain an injury during your lunch break on a day when you were working from the office, you would be eligible for coverage. The same conditions can apply if you get injured while working remotely.
However, if the injury occurs after you have finished your work hours or while engaging in an activity that is clearly unrelated to work, it is unlikely that you would be covered. Nevertheless, the extent of these situations can vary significantly, depending on your specific circumstances. Seeking guidance from an experienced work injury lawyer can assist in assessing your eligibility for a compensation claim.
Examples of work injuries sustained at home eligible for workers’ compensation
Examples of work injuries sustained at home that may be eligible for workers’ compensation include stress injuries from your work-from-home setup (such as neck or back pain), mental health conditions, joint pain, musculoskeletal injuries, slips, trips, falls, and eye strain.
Your employer can help make your home office safe
Employers have a responsibility to provide a secure work environment for their employees. While they cannot exert the same level of control over the home environment as they do over their own premises, they still hold the duty to ensure their employees’ safety.
Flexible work arrangements are sought by employees for various reasons, whether on a temporary or permanent basis. Employers who can accommodate such requests demonstrate their ability to adapt and reap the benefits of retaining talented staff, increased productivity, a content workforce, and likely a more profitable company.
When supporting flexible work arrangements, prioritizing safety should be a top concern for employers. They cannot disregard safety simply because the work is conducted outside the office. Neglecting this aspect can lead to severe injuries for employees working from home.
I encourage employers to embrace innovative approaches when considering how to establish a safe work environment for employees working outside the office. This can include:
- Providing clear instructions on how to properly set up a desk (whether during induction, through online videos, or refresher courses) and offering guidance on the suitable equipment to use and the optimal workspace setup.
- Making employee induction processes relevant to the home-based work environment whenever feasible.
- Developing a checklist or a set of instructions to assist employees in creating safe environments for remote work.
- Maintaining regular communication with employees to keep them informed about essential tools, advice, information, and resources necessary to ensure their safety while working.
By taking these proactive steps, employers can fulfill their obligation to provide a safe work environment for employees working outside the traditional office setting.
Preventing workplace injuries is a shared responsibility.
As an employee, you have a role in ensuring your own safety, whether you are working in the office or at home. If you have concerns about the safety of your home work environment, it is important to raise them with your employer. This conversation may lead to a determination that it is unsafe for you to work from home or the implementation of risk controls to make your home office safe.
If you still have concerns, you can request a worksite inspection by your employer. They will assess your work environment to ensure its condition is satisfactory and consult with you on ways to reduce or eliminate any injury risks associated with working from home.
If you are uncertain about your eligibility for workers’ compensation due to a work injury sustained at home, you can contact Jameson Law to consult with our experienced injury lawyers for assistance.