Is it possible to claim workers compensation for a workplace injury sustained at home? Find out your options.
COVID-19 has drastically changed the workplace with strict work from home orders. Working from home (WFH) is not a new concept, however with more of us at home, it does mean the potential for injury at home while working has increased. Find out the requirements for an injury to qualify for workers compensation below.
Impact of the recent working from home orders in Australia
Since March 2020, significant work from home orders were made in Australia, including some workplaces mandating their employees to work from home if it is possible to do so. This directive however has not changed the obligations of employers in relation to workplace health and safety laws. Therefore, you may still be entitled to workers compensation for a workplace injury that happened while working from home.
Risks of working from home
Working from home provides flexibility and can increase productivity, however it also has its own risks, which need to be acknowledged by employers. The risks posed by WFH are not limited to physical injuries and can extend to psychological injuries.
Potential risks of working from home are:
- Ergonomics and equipment. Employers need to ensure they review the ergonomics and equipment of their workers so as to reduce any trip hazards, workstation set-up challenges and ensure overall safety.
- Physical isolation. The extended period of working from home and limited workplace social interaction has resulted in significant increases to mental health issues including feelings of loneliness and negative thinking. By recognising these risks and providing mental health services, employers can reduce this risk for their workers.
- Additional stresses due to being at home. Changes to working conditions can add further stress to workers that may already be experiencing workplace stress. Employers should provide access to training and support to alleviate these changes.
Obligations of an employer with WFH workers
Working from home introduces new safety risks and additional obligations for employers.
Steps that employers can take include:
- Inspection of the worker’s place of work at home.
- Appoint a contact person to direct any concerns with at-home working environment.
- Keep open and regular communication with workers.
- Allow workers to take home any work equipment to increase the comfort of their home office.
If a claim is made for workers compensation for an injury while working from home, iCare will look into the steps taken by the employer to reduce risks for the worker.
How do I make a successful claim for workers compensation for an injury while working from home?
The greatest challenge with making a successful claim for a workplace injury sustained while working from home is proving that the injury happened in the course of your employment.
Working from home does make it difficult to prove, but if an injury happens during work hours, it can be easier to establish the connection to your employment.
You will need to provide evidence to show that the injury was a result of you performing your duties. For instance, if you slipped on the stairs while taking a work call, and there was nothing hazardous on the steps, this may form a claim for workers compensation. You will then need to show evidence that you did in fact fall down the stairs and this is where challenges can arise, especially due to lack of impartial witnesses.
To ensure you are on the forefront to make a successful claim, when the injury occurs, you must immediately report it to your employer. The earlier you report it, the quicker the evidence process will start. You should then contact a legal compensation specialist to assist you with your claim.
We are here for you
With all the changes in the workplace due to COVID-19, it can be difficult to navigate your rights when working from home. Our team of experienced workers compensation lawyers at Masselos & Co are here for you and are ready to assist. Book your free consultation today.