A substantial amount of the workforce in North Carolina and nationwide now involves remote working and working from home.
That very well may remain the case even after Coronavirus lockdowns end.
It will be interesting to see how things develop as we eventually return to some level of normalcy post-COVID 19 – Ralph Meekins, Shelby Workplace Injury Lawyer
Work Comp lawyers regularly help clients with claims for “on the job” and “workplace injuries” that take place off-premises of the employer
As a sign of the times, that increasingly may involve workplace injuries that take place within the employee’s home.
With that, you may have questions such as:
- If I’m injured at home, is that covered under the Workman’s Compensation Laws in North Carolina?
- What is considered an “on the job” injury?
- Is the employer required to give assistance in setting up a home office or ensuring safety if I’m working remotely or from home?
Is the Injury Work-Related?
One of the first steps of a legal analysis of whether the NC Worker’s Compensation Act in NC applies involves a formal determination of whether or not the injury is in fact “work-related.”
“Work-Related” is a term of art used by injury lawyers (and the NC Work Comp laws) and relates to legal liability for injuries sustained in the scope of employment.
What is a compensable workplace injury resulting from or is in the course of employment depends on the nature and circumstances of the job duties and cause of the injury – Ralph Meekins
In North Carolina, Occupational Safety and Health issues are administered through the NC Department of Labor.
The Code of Federal Regulation 29 CFR 1904.5(b)(7) “Determination of Work Relatedness” provides some guidance on the issue.
Injuries and accidents that take place at home may, in certain circumstances, be considered “work-related” if directly related to job performance.
Injuries that take place in the general home setting, environment, or those related to the ordinary upkeep of your living space likely would not be considered ‘work-related’ – Ralph Meekins, Cleveland County Attorney
An injury may be accepted for compensation under the NC Workman’s Compensation Law (the NC Workers’ Compensation Act) whether or not the accident occurs in a designated “home office,” work-space, or even while working at your kitchen table.
A key aspect of legal liability work on-the-job and workplace injuries involves the legal term in the course of employment.
Analysis of that legal standard and condition precedent remains largely the same.
The individual case history, unique circumstances, and sequence of events leading up to the injury are important to consider.
If injured in an accident while working from home or remotely, employees ordinarily must be engaged in the actual performance of work or in furtherance of duties on the behalf of the employer.
That’s true for legal issues involving employees who drive as part of the job, go to remote facilities on behalf of the employer, or are engaged in the performance of work at someplace other than the central office location of the employer.
Will OSHA inspect my home office?
OSHA is the acronym for the federal law known as the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
Generally speaking, OSHA will not inspect your house or home office to confirm it is a safe work environment.
As such, one should not assume employers are legally liable or responsible for failing to provide a safe home-office location.
It’s important to note the NC Work Comp laws are separate and apart from federal legislation involving OSHA safety standards – Ralph Meekins, Work Comp Lawyer in Shelby NC
If a home-work location or office includes a manufacturing facility, OSHA may conduct an inspection of the facility if specifically requested to do so.
Employers should put into place measures to encourage a safe work environment as part of any remote work policy.
Employers also would benefit from helping employees set up work from home offices that are ergonomic and provide some training as to the creation and maintenance of a safe workplace at home.
It’s a good idea for employers to:
- Take steps to encourage employees to take regular breaks
- Establish safety checklists to reduce potential injuries and claims
- Set forth procedures to allow representatives of the employer to inspect work environments and confirm the employee is compliant with work at home policies
- Conduct periodic reviews and “check-ins” with team leaders and supervisors of the employer by way of WebEx, Zoom, and conferencing by phone
Shelby Workers Compensation Lawyers – Teddy, Meekins and Talbert Law Firm
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, whether or not that took place on the physical premises of your employer, we are available for legal consultation.
Legal consultations for personal injury and workers compensation claims are free of charge at our Shelby NC law firm.
If you have questions about your legal matter or would like additional information about possibly retaining the firm, please call now: 704-734-9505