There are many employees across Ohio and the rest of the United States who work from home, often in a virtual workplace. In some cases, companies may face employer tort lawsuits for workers injured at home.
Working from home does not eliminate all the employer’s responsibilities. Employers may still hold all its insurance responsibilities for a work environment and some risks that are now outside of their control. This environment also involves additional concerns for the employee’s homeowner insurance carriers.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that an employer assure that there is a safe work environment for its employees. This requirement applies to employers who make their employees work from home.
One of the risks is that employees are working in a new workspace that was not intended for their jobs such as a kitchen table or their living room. Laptops, screen, printers and other electronics that were used in the office which was designed for their use are now being used in makeshift locations. This increase the risks of a work-related injury at home.
Working from home could also involve worker’s compensation. The law may change in this area. In a case from Oregon, for example, an employee for a department store chain was awarded compensation when she tripped over her dog while getting work items from her garage.
Workers’ compensation many be more complicated because work and personal time is mixed at home and employers and employees are located at locations that span cites, states and even countries. There may be difficulties with proving that an injury at home was related to a work duty or applying state laws if the business is located outside Ohio.
To help deal with this, employees need to plan for working from home. First, the human resources department should provide information on the employer’s legal responsibility for working at home. Personal work equipment need to be separated.
Review homeowner insurance for personal liability coverage. Potential dangers must also be removed to restrict or prevent injuries from the workspace.
Gathering evidence and keeping up with changes in the law may require legal assistance. An attorney can help pursue compensation for work injuries.