Perhaps you are among the millions of employees who now work from home, and perhaps you have suffered a work-related back injury.
If you worked in the office, you would not question your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits, but as a remote employee, are you still covered?
A little background
A study that Owl Labs conducted globally revealed that some 62% of workers between the ages of 22 to 65 work remotely, although some do so only occasionally. In the United States, more than 4.7 million people spend at least half their time working remotely and 16% of all companies employ remote workers exclusively.
Most common injuries
Common problems that employees who work from home encounter include back, neck, arm and wrist injuries. For example, back and neck injuries can develop if the worker is using a chair without height adjustment or a surface, such as a dining table, that is too high for the computer. Similar issues occur if the worker uses a laptop. Here, the keyboard and monitor are attached, so the keyboard is often too high and the monitor too low for safe, ergonomic use. One solution is to use an external keyboard and mouse plus risers for the laptop itself.
About your claim
The courts have found that while an employer does not have control over a remote employee’s work environment, this does not justify denying the employee workers’ compensation coverage. The general feeling is that hazards in the remote workspace are hazards of the worker’s employment. However, as a remote employee, you must provide evidence that the back injury occurred while you were completing a task for your employer during working hours. That done, you are free to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.