I’ve been injured while working from home – what are my rights?
Since the start of the pandemic, most workplaces adapted the way they work to allow their employees to efficiently work from home (WFH). Many employees enjoy the benefits and flexibility that this brings, but if you’re injured while working from home who is responsible? Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.
Common types of WFH injuries include back pain, eye strain, neck pain and repetitive strain injury. These can all be caused by using equipment without following health and safety guidance on appropriate set up. Both you and your employer have some responsibilities for health and safety while working from home.
Employer Responsibilities for Health and Safety
An employer is required to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees, whether they are working in the office or at home. If you are working from home, your employer should:
1. Carry out a risk assessment to establish whether it is appropriate for you to work from home and to account for any potential risks
2. If necessary, visit the place you are working to ensure your health and safety. This may particularly occur if there are special requirements that need to be met, for example if the employee needs reasonable adjustments for a disability or if the work includes any significant hazards.
3. Make sure you have the tools to look after yourself safely at home and maintain an equipment that they provide. An employer is typically only responsible for the equipment that they supply.
4. Protect workers from health and safety risks from working on a computer – also known as display screen equipment (DSE). If the DSE regulations apply, your employer should carry out a DSE assessment for individual workers. The assessment aims to ensure that homeworkers can achieve a comfortable posture while working with DSE and ensure that any equipment provided is safe and suitable to use. A self-assessment may be appropriate where an employee has been given suitable training.
5. Provide any PPE that is required.
Homeworkers’ Responsibilities for Health and Safety
Homeworkers have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety, and have a responsibility to ensure their home working space is safe to use. To minimise your risks of being injured while working from home, you should:
1. Report all employment-related hazards to your employer – this could be done by way of a risk assessment supplied by your employer.
2. Reduce any risks identified by a DSE assessment so far as reasonably practicable.
3. Check your home insurance to see if you are covered to work from home. This duty also rests on your employer and is something they should check with you.
Tips to avoid being injured while working from home
1. The Health and Safety Executive provides advice on how to maintain good posture.
2. Visually check for damage to electrical sockets, plugs or leads. Remember that your employer is only responsible for electrical equipment provided by them.
3. Working from home can be very isolating. Ensure that you catch up with your colleagues via video platform regularly or schedule a regular virtual get-together. Alternatively, check with your employer and see if you can schedule a day to work in the office so you can feel better connected with your colleagues. Take a look at NHS advice to manage working from home.
Reporting accidents and injuries for home workers
If you are working from home, you should report an accident if it occurred as a result of the work activity being done and the equipment your employer provided to carry out that work. Take a look at the HSE’s list of reportable injuries.