Experts predict that remote work is here to stay.
While remote work is covered by worker’s compensation, it can create unique challenges for employees who are injured on the job.
What are the most common remote worker injuries?
The most common remote worker injuries are repetitive stress injuries. RSIs might include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Ulnar tunnel syndrome
- Back pain
- Neck pain
The correlation is of course that most people who work at home are doing the same work they could be doing in the office. This is work that typically involves lots of typing and sitting at your desk.
Stress and mental health injuries are also common.
What’s different about a remote worker injury?
You’ll have to prove you were acting in your employer’s interests at the time of the injury. You also need to be able to prove that you followed your employer’s policies.
For example, if your employer has provided ergonomic equipment for use in your home office then you need to be able to show you were using that work station but developed RSIs anyway.
EHS Today recommends that employers provide each worker with a safety checklist. Telework.gov also provides one. If you haven’t been injured at work yet it may be best to follow the checklist and to obtain some ergonomic equipment of your own. Living without a painful injury is always preferable to filing a workers compensation claim!
Proving the Injury was Work Related
Even a slip and fall in your own home can be considered an injury covered by workers compensation if you were on the job at the time. Proving the injury was work-related can be difficult if you were home alone.
Here are some ways you can do that.
- If your employer has clearly defined work hours, and you were working within those hours.
- If you log into certain employer systems you like the Project Management system or company Slack, you can show that you were active in those systems around the time of your injury.
- If your work involves phone logs you can produce phone logs.
- Your job description, which is especially useful for RSIs.
If your employer does have a safety policy you should gather any photos you can on the day of your injury to show how you have complied with the policy.
Finally, be sure you follow all the same steps for a remote work injury that you’d follow if you were at home, on the job. Report and document the injury immediately. For a remote work injury it may also be wise to reach out to a New Jersey worker’s compensation attorney right away, as you are already in a sticky situation with an employer who might well push back.