Manual therapists’ indicate the rise in patients who report more neck pain, back pain or other musculoskeletal issues since the stay-at-home guidance began last year. At first, they felt only mild discomfort but then, after switching to working from home mode, the pain sharpened gradually. They developed a bunch of problems with their neck and back as well as shoulders and wrists.
This is not surprising because many used to work in well-equipped offices behind a comfortable desk, sitting in a comfy chair with a monitor installed at eye level to keep the posture straight. Yet most of the workers thought they would work from home for just a few weeks, so it looked to them that it’s not a big deal. They thought that there will be no problem working from the couch or a kitchen table for a short period of time.
However, due to the stay-at-home agenda, millions of workers have spent months hunched on sofas and beds as well as fiddly kitchen counters thus developing an “overuse injury” that is also known as repetitive trauma. Many haven’t just changed the location where they work, they’ve also changed the way they work. They no longer walk down the hall for a meeting, rush across the street for a coffee, commute but sit instead. This is where many start to notice the symptoms which may lead to serious complications in the future if ignored and not treated on time. This is the insidiousness of injuries acquired from working at home.
What are the duties of my employer if I've got injured whilst working from home?
Though the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 don’t apply to domestic premises, your employer would still be required to take reasonable care for your safety when working at home. However, the extent of this duty would be limited due to the lack of control your employer has over your place of residence. Your employer would be expected to carry out a risk assessment in terms of the suitability of the type of work you would be carrying out for the home environment.
For example, if you’re making crafted products your employer could be expected to establish whether you have sufficient space to make and store the products safely to avoid items falling on you or you tripping over them. In some cases, it may be necessary for the employer to visit your home for an assessment of appropriate safety measures.
Would I be able to claim compensation if despite the safety measures implemented at home I've still got injured?
There would be a significant duty upon you to look after your own safety as you would have control over your home environment but your employer is obliged to provide you with all necessary tools and maintain the appropriate equipment for you to carry out the work. Nevertheless, if you were to suffer an injury whilst working at home, filing a personal injury compensation claim would be possible if your employer had failed to take reasonable care of your safety.