Employers and employees have specific responsibilities as laid out in the employment contract. One such responsibility is the employer's responsibility over work-related accidents employees suffer. With the right insurance coverage, employers can cater to the injuries suffered by their employees while on the job. However, the future of work and the work environment is changing fast, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19-induced lockdown.

With the lockdown, employers were tasked with the responsibility to find more creative ways to get work going. The result was remote employment or work from home. According to a Pew Research Center survey, most workers whose work could be done remotely or from home rarely had the opportunity to do so. However, the pandemic exposed them to at-home working conditions as the remote working staff grew to 71% during the pandemic.

The changes to the working environment also meant that certain status quo needed to change, especially as more employees preferred to work from home. One of the changes to the status quo would be workers' compensation and what work-related injuries now mean.

From the employer's perspective, employees are now outside the work environment they have provided, which means issues like safety, mental health, stress, etc., need adjustment. On the other hand, employees would love to be protected irrespective of where they're working from.

This article explains workers' compensation concerning remote working conditions and what it means to employees and employers.

Does Workers' Compensation Cover Remote Workers?

Yes. Workers' compensation covers remote or telecommuting workers who have already signed a contract with such protection. Workers may get the necessary support from their employers and insurer if they suffer injuries or illnesses while completing a task or duty during official work hours.

In remote working cases, the employee has the burden of proof. This means they must be able to present reasonable evidence that demonstrates their injury happened during work hours and while completing work-related duties.

However, it is also important to note that courts are more lenient in such cases, especially as employers do not have autonomy over the employee's at-home work environment, and employees may need more evidence to prove their claim.

However, employers can invest in making the at-home work environment more friendly through incentives to reduce injuries and claims.

Common Work-from-Home Injuries

Work-from-home accidents are common because employees have different safety precautions and standards than in a work environment. Employees may also suffer injuries due to the lack of proper gear or work-related equipment at home.

The many factors surrounding work-from-home jobs expose employees to common injuries like;

1. Cumulative injuries

Cumulative injuries are those sustained due to repetitive movement of body parts. It could also be a result of overuse.

Most remote workers may suffer from this injury which can affect their muscles, joints, tendons, and nerves. Everyday cumulative or repetitive use injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendonitis, back pain, neck pain, etc.

These injuries can be prevented by taking better approaches to work from home. They could also be alleviated with the proper workstation setup.

Employers and remote working employees can leverage the following tips to reduce the chances of an injury.
  • Adjust the chair and table to the correct height and distance
  • Use a separate (external) keyboard and mouse.
  • Prevent monitor glare
  • Elevate monitor to reduce neck strain
  • Use a headset
  • Take frequent breaks to stretch joints and muscles.

2. Slip, Trips, and Fall Injuries

Employees working from home can slip, trip, or fall. The National Safety Council notes that slips, trips, and falls are among the most frequently reported home accidents.

Slips can happen when the employee loses footing while on a work call. It could also be due to loss of balance, especially when the body hits a sturdy and fixed object. Whatever the cause, falls can be disastrous and can lead to long-term disabilities.

Employees working from home can take the right approach to prevent such problems. Recommended tips include;
  • Socks can be slippery, so wear proper footwear while inside.
  • Clean up spills immediately to prevent slips
  • Use handrails when using the stairs.
  • Keep your home and workspace organized to prevent trips.

How Employers Can Handle Work-from-Home Injuries

It is near impossible for employers to prevent all work-from-home injuries. However, defining what counts as work-from-home injury and what is covered under the workers' compensation insurance scheme is essential.

Employers can also develop a work-from-home safety procedure and best practices to help employees stay safe and prevent injuries.