Posted on 09/14/2011, by Jeremy Edsall
Keep Off-Site Workers in Mind
Wellness and safety programs can help improve the health and safety of employees in the workplace, saving employers money by reducing both health care and workers’ compensation costs. But what about employees who work from home or off-site? Are they able to participate and take advantage of the benefits of these programs?
The health and safety of employees who telecommute is just as important as the well-being of the employees who are under your roof every day. Even though many of these workers have low-risk “desk jobs,” employers should still be concerned with their wellness.
A work-from-home employee in New Jersey often sat for long periods of time without breaks from her desk. After working from at least midnight until 10 a.m. to meet a project deadline, the worker died of a blood clot that formed in her leg and travelled to her lungs. Even though she possessed other risk factors such as obesity, the court ruled that her husband is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits because the clot developed while she was working and because her inactivity caused by her job was greater than her inactivity during the rest of her normal daily activities. This worker was not utilizing healthy and safe practices during her working hours.
The best way to ensure that a work-from-home or off-site employee is working safely is to have a representative, either a manager or someone from HR, make a visit to their work location. Seeing their work environment firsthand will give employers a better idea of any risks that are present. Work habits and routines should also be monitored. The supervisor of the woman from New Jersey should have noted that she often had to spend extended amounts of time without leaving her desk and suggested that she take more frequent breaks.
After making an off-site work location visit, make recommendations to correct any issues. If an employee is utilizing a poorly constructed chair, offer to supply a chair that will provide better ergonomics. Follow up by involving them in any wellness initiatives the company is sponsoring. Send them wellness tips that apply specifically to their work environment.
For more off-site worker risk management resources, contact Friedman Associates today.