As more and more companies of all sizes adopt working at home arrangements, they should be aware that they may still be at risk for certain workers’ compensation claims. After all, OSHA requires employers to provide safe working environments – including those in home-based settings.
When home-based employees work on the clock or in activities that support the interests of the company in an approved work from home arrangement, these are two major categories of injuries that could generate a workers’ comp claim:
- It’s a good bet that the ergonomic setup you provided each employee at the office isn’t being replicated at home as too many of them park on sofas and work on coffee table “desks.” Additionally, employees at home may be less likely to take breaks to stretch and relieve neck tension. No, you can’t personally oversee these working environments, but they’re still considered a company workplace.
- If an employee were to trip and fall in the workplace, it’s clearly a workers’ comp matter. What about at home? Attorneys divide these types of home-based accidents between “detours” and “frolics.” Home “detours” are the types of movements and activities that would likely also happen in the workplace. Walking to the kitchen to get a beverage. Going down a set of stairs to use a restroom. In contrast, as you can probably guess from the term, home “frolics” are the activities an employee does at home that are more unique to living at home, like fixing a meal in the kitchen. It’s not always clear cut and there’s a big gray area between detouring and frolicking to be sure.