Accidents can happen at any workplace. This means construction sites, factories, offices and more. Under certain circumstances, teleworkers may suffer a work-related injury.
More workers are using technology to work from home. It is estimated that 38.2 million Americans, or 22% of the workforce, will work remotely by 2025.
A worker who suffers a work-related injury may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Changes to the way we work means that more remote workers may be eligible.
Typically, a work-related injury arises out of and in the course of employment. The term arising out of addresses what the employee was doing when they were injured. The phrase in the course of concerns when the injury occurred. In other words, the worker had to suffer an injury during work hours and from a job-related activity.
A worker can suffer a workplace injury suddenly, like a broken bone from tripping. Injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, can also develop over time.
In a 2006 workers’ compensation case, an employee was awarded compensation benefits for an injury she suffered while working from her home. She fell while walking down the stairs to her office and injured her neck. Before suffering her injury, she went upstairs from her home office to get a drink.
Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation adjudicators and an appeal court ruled in her favor. Although she briefly stopped working to get a drink, the appeals court ruled that her home office was an approved secondary work site and that she was injured in the course and scope of her employment.
Work-related injuries suffered at remote sites pose obstacles to employers and injured workers. Unlike a central work location, there may not be witnesses to a work-related injury at an employee’s home or remote work site. Also, home work stations may be haphazardly planned and equipped inadequately.
Measures to help prevent accidents and process claims include:
- Setting fixed hours of work
- Mandating meal and break times
- Requiring a designated area restricted to work
- Implementing ergonomic best practices by providing training, equipment and guidance on workplace setup
Attorneys can help injured workers to gather evidence and pursue their workers’ compensation claim. They can help assure that they comply with compensation procedures and do not inadvertently give up their rights.