Since March, there was an enormous increase in workers telecommuting or working from home which may become more permanent. But the home is not exempt from workplace injuries and at-home workers may be able eligible for workers’ compensation.
Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation is an insurance program that pays benefits for employees injured on the job. A job-related injury should be reported to a supervisor as soon as possible.
Homes are now workplaces. But unlike an office, however, employers cannot help prevent workers’ compensation claims by enforcing workplace rules or designing, building or equipping the workspace.
It is possible, however, for employers to be held liable under workers’ compensation for any injury suffered during employment. For example, workers’ compensation would cover a worker who tripped over the dog while getting a file according to a case from another state. Likewise, a worker may be eligible for benefits if they were injured while getting a glass of water or lunch under the personal comfort rule.
Even though workplaces can be one of the safest workplaces available, ergonomics is becoming a problem as workers work from dining room tables or couches instead of office desks and chairs. In addition to providing more appropriate furniture, employers should create working from policies addressing dedicated and safe spaces for work. Job descriptions should include definition of at-home work.
Another new issue involves the lack of witnesses for injuries suffered at home. Workers’ may face more obstacles with their claims if, for example, they suffered a back injury while emptying the dryer between virtual meetings.
Overlapping insurance policy coverage is another developing issue. Personal health insurance usually covers injuries that take place at home unless they are work-related. Homeowner’s insurance does not cover personal injuries but compensates for injuries to visitors who are not there for business purposes.
If someone is injured at an employee’s home and they were there for business reasons involving the employer, the company’s liability policy would likely cover the injury.
This legal issue will grow because workers because an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will continue to work from home for a few days each week, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Anyone suffering a work-related injury at home should seek legal advice to determine their workers’ compensation rights in Oklahoma.