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Keven Moore: Working from home trends; how an employer can keep employees safe

It’s May 2023 and since the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic like the other 10’s millions of U.S. workers you find yourself comfortably working from home in a bedroom office, but then you get up to walk downstairs to pick up a FedEx package that has arrived from work. But unfortunately, while walking down your steps you trip and fall and break your arm. Now if that had happened at work your injury would be compensable under workers’ compensation laws, but since it happened at work, is it still compensable?

I’ll answer that question a little later, but first, let’s dig a little deeper into the trends and how COVID-19 has altered the workplace in so many ways to better understand the magnitude of this growing trend.

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Working from home was once seen as a luxury for a select few. However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, remote work became a necessity for many businesses and employees around the world. As a result, the trends surrounding working from home have shifted dramatically in recent years.

According to the US Census Bureau data released in 2022, more than 27.6 million people worked primarily from home in 2021. That’s triple the number of people working from home in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic forced many businesses to adopt remote work policies to ensure the safety of their employees. This included me, and my co-workers, but we have since all returned back to our offices, but
some employees now work in a hybrid situation allowing some people to work a couple of days a week from home.

Many businesses have found that remote work is not only safe but also cost-effective. In fact, according
to a survey conducted by Gartner, Inc., 74% of CFOs plan to move previously on-site employees to remote work permanently. This trend is not limited to large corporations; small businesses are also embracing remote work to reduce overhead costs and expand their hiring pool beyond local talent.

The traditional 9-to-5 workday is becoming a thing of the past. With remote work, employees have more
flexibility to choose when and where they work. This trend is particularly appealing to working parents who need to balance work and family responsibilities.
A recent survey conducted by FlexJobs found that 84% of working parents want to work remotely at least part of the time. This trend is not limited to parents; many employees value the flexibility of remote work and are willing to trade a higher salary for a more flexible work schedule.

To get to the answer to that question, it’s important to understand what workers’ compensation accidents are. Workers’ compensation accidents refer to accidents that occur while an employee is on the job. This can include accidents that occur while an employee is working from home.

Keven Moore works in risk management services. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He is also an expert witness. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both Lexington and Northern Kentucky. Keven can be reached at kmoore@higusa.com

So yes, remote and telecommuting workers typically are covered under WC policies if an injury or illness
occurs while an employee is completing a work task during work hours.

In most cases, the remote worker has the burden of proof, meaning that they must be able to demonstrate that they were acting in the interest of their employer at the time they got sick or injured.

However, the courts have found that, even though the employer does not have control over an employee’s home environment, lack of evidence is not a reason to deny claims.

Therefore, employers are responsible for providing the same safe work environment for both their on-site workers and remote workers.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that their employees are safe while working from home. The following are some of the ways employers can prevent workers’ compensation accidents from telecommuting:

• Provide proper training and equipment: Employers should provide their employees with the necessary training and equipment to ensure that they can work safely from home. This includes providing employees with ergonomic furniture, such as an adjustable chair and desk, to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. Additionally, employers should provide their employees with training on how to use the equipment safely and how to set up their workspace properly.

• Set clear expectations: Employers should set clear expectations for their employees regarding their work environment and the equipment they use while working from home. This includes providing guidelines on how to set up their workspace properly and what equipment they should use. Employers should also provide clear guidelines on what tasks are expected of employees while working from home.

• Regular check-ins: Employers should regularly check in with their employees who are working from home to ensure that they are working safely and are not experiencing any issues. This can be done through video conferencing or phone calls. Regular check-ins also help to promote communication
between employers and employees, which can help to prevent accidents.

BE Safe My Friends

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