What does your current teleworking policy look like? If you answer ‘No’ to any of these questions, your policy may need to be shored up to keep employees safe, comfortable, and productive and to reduce claims risk to an organization.
- Your teleworking policy provides information on how to safely set up your home workstations including provisions for how to evaluate if equipment is needed and how to then order any equipment.
- Your teleworking policy is consistent across the organization and employees are able to clearly see the process steps and authority required to, for example, request an appropriate chair for a home office.
- Your teleworking policy clearly addresses work from home hours, breaks and the need for changes in working position during the work day.
Insurance Business magazine notes that while it may not be easy or convenient for employers to ensure that the environment their at-home employees are working in includes good ergonomics, it’s important to do what they can to minimize the risks. Employees working from home may not be adhering to typical office hours according to Insurance Business. For example, instead of an eight-hour day with two 10-minute breaks and a lunch hour, employees may decide to power through their workday with no break at all, causing physical fatigue and injuries associated with carpal tunnel, neck and back pain, and forward head posture problems from sitting at a computer and rounding the shoulders to lean the head forward. In turn, work-related musculoskeletal disorders can arise, which in the US typically exceed $50 billion annually in workers’ compensation claims, according to OSHA.
SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, wants to remind employers that comprehensive telework agreements are essential to reduce the potential for fraudulent workers’ compensation claims. Specific agreements might include:
- Required job duties.
- Expected work product.
- Expected job location.
- Job hours and how the employee clocks in and out, as well as the repercussions for not doing so.
- Allowed break times.
Additional details might include when a teleworker may travel back to the employer’s physical jobsite, as well as the procedure for providing notice and filing a workers’ compensation claim. Employers may also wish to set out in the telework agreement the right to inspect a residence after a claimed work injury.
What’s the takeaway?
- Organizations cannot expect WC claim risk to be reduced due to work from home employment arrangements.
- Ergonomics and risk mitigation programs and policies should consider key stakeholders and be clearly communicated across the organization.
- ExponentEHF is experienced in creating comprehensive ergonomics programs for your work from home employees and can help your organization mitigate claims risk in this area! Get in tough with us as firstname.lastname@example.org.