When employees working from home report injuries

By: Ed Zalewski

Publication: Supervisor Safety Alert

Date Posted: 01/20/2021

Home injuries result in workers’ compensation claim

Many employees have been working from home for some time now, but injuries at home could still result in workers’ compensation claims. Your company may also need to record injuries on an OSHA 300 log.

Some employers are not covered by that OSHA rule, but if you see an annual summary of total injuries posted on February 1 each year, then OSHA requires your company to track work-related injuries.

Both laws cover “work-related” injuries, but each law uses a different definition. If an employee gets injured while working at home, the circumstances must be evaluated to determine coverage under each law. A particular injury might be covered by workers’ compensation, but might not fall under the OSHA recordkeeping provisions (or might fall under OSHA, but not under workers’ compensation).

As a supervisor, you should recognize the potential for injuries that occur at home to fall under one or both of those laws. If an employee reports an injury while working at home (or while traveling on business), pass along the details for investigation. Don’t assume that home-based injuries aren’t covered.

Coverage determinations on home injuries

The OSHA rule states that if an employee working at home drops a box of work documents and injures his or her foot, the case is work-related and may have to be tracked on the 300 Log. However, if an employee is injured because he or she trips over the family dog while rushing to answer a work phone call, OSHA says that the case is not work-related and would not have to be recorded.

Workers’ compensation, on the other hand, is more challenging. The injury from dropping a box of documents would likely be eligible for workers’ compensation. However, the example of tripping over a family dog is uncertain, and may require a determination from your workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Even if the carrier denies the claim, the injured employee might be able to appeal that decision.

When a remote worker calls in to report an injury, get as many details as you can regarding the circumstances, then pass along the information to the person responsible for making the coverage determination. If you aren’t expected to make a determination of coverage under workers’ compensation or OSHA laws, then don’t dismiss a reported injury by assuming that it isn’t work-related, no matter how unusual the circumstances may sound.

About the author
Ed Zalewski - EH&S Editor

Ed specializes in safety issues such as injury recordkeeping, walking-working surfaces, and forklifts. He is responsible for researching regulatory activity and issues facing EHS professionals in order to develop and update content for J. J. Keller’s EHS products.

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