Telecommuting is generally defined as using technology to permit employees to work from remote locations in lieu of or in addition to the traditional office setting. Many telecommuters work from a home office or in the field. In years past, if you wanted to work from home, you had to take everything you needed with you from the office and remember to return it when done. In today’s global economy, workers can easily access what they need from just about anywhere. Approximately 10 million people were telecommuting in the mid-1990s. Today that number has skyrocketed to more than 20 million telecommuters. Both employees and employers have a new area of risks associated with working from virtual offices.
What types of workers compensation claims do telecommuting employees file?
In the past, employers worried about telecommuting employees filing claims based on issues, such as tripping over a lamp cord or slipping while watering the plants. Surprisingly, claims of this type have been few. The claims that have been filed by telecommuting employees seem to fall within a range of areas related to home-office ergonomics:
- Computer Ergonomics. Risk factors include repletion, posture, prolonged sitting and eyestrain
- Chairs. Chairs should include a lumbar support system and should adjust in height
- Workstations. As with all employees, workstations should have adequate leg clearance and be at a comfortable height
- Monitors. A poorly positioned monitor can cause neck-shoulder stress and eye strain problems. Monitors should be 18-24 inches from the employee’s eyes. They should be directly in front of the employee to avoid stress from movement
- The Mouse. Extending reach with the mouse on a poorly positioned work station can create neck, shoulder and wrist stress. The mouse should be next to the keyboard to avoid extended reaching
If you telecommute from a home office or from the field, you may qualify for workers compensation benefits for injuries sustained while working. An experienced attorney can help you determine your rights and file your claim.