Colsa Insurance Agency, Inc. Blog
As more Americans work from home than ever before, many employers are wondering about their obligations under OSHA as well as how to reduce the chances that workers may be injured while telecommuting.
Obviously, the chances of an injury when working from home are small. The most common issue that is likely to arise is long-term injuries from poor workstation design, which can result in carpal tunnel syndrome and other stress and ergonomic injuries that develop over time.
For the most part, employers should approach workplace safety for telecommuting workers as they would safety for office workers, particularly workstation design and arrangement (ergonomics) as well as work scheduling and distribution.
Duties under OSHA
OSHA's General Duty Clause applies to any place an employer has staff working, be that at the company's facilities or worksites, at a customer's worksite, or even if they work from home.
Under the clause, employers have a general duty to "furnish to each of his employee's employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."
Fortunately, most workplace safety specialists say that employers have little responsibility in ensuring a safe workplace. In fact, OSHA has issued guidance stating that it:
Workers' comp still in play
While that is good news, employers are still responsible for any injuries an employee suffers while working from home under workers' compensation laws.
For an injury to be considered work-related it must:
With that in mind, employers do have an obligation to ensure that a home worksite is safe in order to prevent injuries, even if OSHA does not require it.
The international law firm of Foley & Lardner, LLP recommends that employers:
While you as an employer are not required under OSHA regulations to inspect your workers' home's for compliance, it is a good idea to give them guidelines for how to set up their home office and also work with them to supply any needed furniture or accessories they would need to safely carry out their work tasks.
You may also want to consider asking them to install a smoke alarm in their home and that they have a plan to evacuate in case of fire or other emergency. Also if they have a lot of electrical equipment, there should be sufficient ventilation.
Linda is a junior partner in a law firm and drives a car that the firm owns and insures. The firm's auto insurance covers her as a partner and she doesn't own another car, so she sees no need to have her own policy.
Most of the time, this is not a problem. However, spring break comes and she takes her kids to DisneyWorld. She rents a car at the Orlando airport and never gives a thought to whether her firm's insurance will cover her if she has an accident with the rental. In this case, a phone conversation with the firm's insurance agent would have been a great idea.
While driving to her hotel one night, Linda rear-ends a new Lexus. The damage to the other car is extensive; Linda looks to her firm's auto liability coverage for the cost of repairing it.
The ISO Business Auto Policy covers the person or organization shown in the policy declarations (the information page at the beginning.) In this case, the name shown in the policy Declarations is the name of Linda's firm.
The policy goes on to say that, for liability insurance, the firm is an insured and so is anyone else using, with the firm's permission, a covered auto the firm owns, hires or borrows, with some exceptions.
Unfortunately for Linda, the firm didn't rent the car; she did … in her own name. Consequently, the firm's insurance will not cover her liability for this accident. She will be forced to pay for it out of her own funds.
However, there are a couple of policy endorsements that her firm could have purchased that would have solved Linda's problem.
Drive Other Car Coverage - Broadened Coverage for Named Individuals
The insurance company will require the insured to list the names of one or more individuals on the endorsement.
The change extends several of the policy's coverages so that they apply to the listed individuals and their resident spouses. This endorsement comes with some significant limitations:
Individual Named Insured
An alternative to this endorsement is to list individuals' names in the policy declarations along with the firm's name and attach an endorsement called Individual Named Insured.
The endorsement covers the individual listed in the declarations and automatically covers the person's resident spouse and family members. It also covers these individuals should they injure another of the firm's employees.
These policy changes affect several coverages, including liability, uninsured motorist, medical payments, and physical damage.
If you are considering doing this, you should consult with us to discuss the endorsements' details and identify the one that will best insure the concerned individuals. With the right coverage in place, Linda can enjoy her vacation without having to worry about who will pay for the fender-bender.
Welcome to our new insurance agency blog!
This is our very first post. We're not quite sure what we're going to write about here, but the plan is to create helpful content for customers and prospective clients about information that is relevant to you.
We hope you'll come to view this as a top resource for keeping your family and your finances safe.
Here are a few of the topics we may be writing about: