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Employers have an obligation to provide a safe place of work for their employees and this obligation is likely to extend beyond the office walls. This is important as employers can help prevent employees from getting injured while working from home and mobile-working environments.  If you are injured during working hours at home, you may still be covered by workers' compensation.

When you work from home, you should maintain an open line of communication with your employer to ensure you’re aware of any safety issues that relate to your work environment. Fortunately, many technologies enable you to stay connected and prioritise a positive culture of workplace safety.

Workers' compensation for work-related injuries that happen at home

If you sustain an injury while working from home in the course of your employment or while performing any activity related to your employment, and you have your employer’s permission (whether explicit or implicit) to work from home, you should be be eligible for workers' compensation

Recent cases show that you will be covered by WorkCover for the same types of incidents that would be covered if you were working on your employer’s premises. For example, if you injured yourself during your lunch break on a day when you were working from the office, you would be covered - the same conditions can apply if you get injured while working from home.

However, if you were injured after clocking off from work or while doing something clearly unrelated to work in any way, you probably would not be covered. Still, the scope of these situations can vary widely, so it all depends on your individual circumstances. An experienced work injury lawyer can help assess your eligibility for a claim.

Examples of work injuries sustained at home eligible for workers’ compensation

Some examples of injuries you could sustain at home that you may be eligible to make a claim for include: 

  • injuries from your work-from-home set up, such as neck or back pain
  • mental health conditions
  • joint paint
  • musculoskeletal injuries
  • slips, trips and falls 
  • eye strain 

Your employer can help make your home office safe

Your employer has an obligation to provide you with a safe workplace. Of course, they can’t control your home environment in the same way they manage their own premises, but they still have a responsibility to ensure your safety.

There are many reasons why employees request flexible work arrangements, and this need for flexible work arrangements might be temporary or permanent. Either way, smart employers will find a way to make sure that they are able to accommodate requests for flexible work arrangements. Those employers that make it work will see the benefits of staff retention, productivity gains, a happy workforce and, most likely, a more profitable company.

One of the top priorities that employers should take into account when supporting flexible work arrangements is safety. The employer cannot turn a blind eye to safety just because the work is undertaken outside the office. If this is overlooked, it may cause serious injuries to employees who are working from home.

I would encourage employers who are thinking about how to provide a safe place of work for employees working outside of the office to embrace new ways of thinking that the opportunity presents. For example:  

  • explaining how to set up a desk properly (will this be done during induction? Supported by on-line video or refresher courses?) and advising employees on the type of equipment they should use and the best place for them to work.
  • making their employees’ induction processes relevant to the home-based working environment whenever possible.
  • creating a checklist or a set of instructions to help employees create safe environments for working away from the office.
  • stay engaged with employees to keep them informed about the tools, advice, information and resources they need to stay safe at work.

Preventing workplace injuries is your responsibility too

As an employee, you are responsible for your own safety at work, whether you’re in the office or at home, so you need to take reasonable care. If you have doubts about the safety of your work environment at home, you should raise these concerns with your employer. This discussion may result in the decision that it’s unsafe for you to work from home or in the creation of risk controls to make your home office safe.

If you still have concerns, ask your employer to perform a worksite inspection. They will check your work environment to ensure they are happy with its condition and consult with you about how to reduce or remove any risks of injuries when working from home.

If you are unsure whether you can claim workers' compensation for a work injury sustained at home, you can check out our free claim check page or get in touch with our experienced injury lawyers.

Dedicated workers' compensation claim lawyers

Our specialist work injury lawyers are here to help. If you've suffered an injury at work that has affected your physical or psychological wellbeing, we can help you get back on track so you can focus on getting better. Find out how we can assist you with your work injury claim.

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