As many workers stay home in order to help flatten the curve for new coronavirus/COVID-19 cases, some may face an unexpected additional challenge—a workplace injury that occurs in their own home. Teleworkers are subject to the same issues as office workers, including tripping and repetitive use injuries.
But if these injuries happen at home, are they still covered by workers’ comp?
What counts as a work-related injury?
Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re not still on the job. Workers’ comp covers employees who are hurt or get sick from a work-related cause. Whether you’re in the office, driving for your job or, as is likely these days, videoconferencing from home, you may be covered if your injury is work related.
That’s the catch, though: The injury must be directly related to the work you do. According to OSHA, “Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is working at home, including work in a home office, will be considered work related if the injury or illness occurs while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation in the home, and the injury or illness is directly related to the performance of work rather than to the general home environment or setting.”
This means that if you’re injured after dropping a box of work-related files on your foot, you likely qualify for workers’ compensation. If it’s your load of laundry, however, you will not qualify—even if you were on the clock.
Why reporting your injury is key
In an office or other workplace setting, a team member may witness your injury. At home, it’s probably just you or other members of your family. Your employer may try to argue that you were not performing a work-related task, or that your injury did not occur in the way you said it did. That’s why it’s so important to report your injury promptly and do your best to maintain a defined workspace and working hours.
Ideally, your employer has a work-from-home policy in place. A strong teleworking policy helps protect both workers and employers by outlining the expectations of a work-from-home arrangement, including working in a safe home environment. A safe home office or workspace has ergonomic equipment, adequate lighting, good ventilation, no dangerous wiring, no fall hazards, fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sudden, almost overnight shift to teleworking, meaning many employers do not have policies in place and are focusing now on keeping business running and people employed. If this is the case and your employer does not have a policy, consider setting your own work-from-home standards, like setting aside a designated workspace.
These are uncertain times for everyone, but when you’re injured on the job—even if it’s in your own home—you still deserve compensation. If you run into objections from your employer, you need an Atlanta workers’ comp lawyer who can guide you through the process.
Your Atlanta Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you better understand the system, guide your conversations with the insurance company and ensure you have all the documentation you need to make a strong case. The Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera can explain Georgia’s workers’ compensation system and the benefits available for your injury or disability. Contact our office today for a free consultation.