A digital workforce and working from home has been essential this year and will likely become more permanent. But work-related injuries may follow workers to their home and require them to seek workers’ compensation.
New York’s workers’ compensation pays cash benefits or medical care if a worker suffers a work-related injury or illness. Fault does not play a role in determining whether compensation is paid except for injuries solely related to worker intoxication from alcohol or drugs or a worker’s self-inflicted injury.
Workers may suffer injuries or illness while working from home. Because of location, however, employers have less control over work conditions and cannot control things like the employee working from their couch instead of a standard and ergonomically correct desk. But the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration holds employers responsible for providing a safe work environment to traditional employees, telecommuters and other employees who work from home.
The top causes of workplace injuries may also occur at home. These include stress or strain from repetitive motion in microtasks, slips, trips and falls. Insurance investigators will likely investigate the cause of the injury, its exact location and what the worker was doing when the injury occurred. They will determine whether it occurred at home, away from home, in a chair or while driving.
As at-home work continues, employers will likely develop more policies governing this work, create home office guidelines which will address a specific designated work area and offer training on setting up a workspace which addresses safety and ergonomics. Employers may also attempt to limit liability by setting fixed work hours, and meal and rest periods to limit the time that a work-related injury can occur.
Worker who suffer a work-related injury or illness should seek legal representation or they may give up important compensation rights. An attorney can help protect their interests in this changing area of law.