Workplace rules come home

In Pennsylvania and throughout the country, the traditional workplace has over the years transitioned from a central business district to an employee’s kitchen table, guest bedroom and other home offices. This trend has recently exploded. Now, employers also have some responsibilities over the safety of a home office and for workers’ compensation for work-related injuries at home.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s rules, employers have some legal duties concerning the safety of home workplaces. These responsibilities, however, are not as great as their office or onsite responsibilities.

OSHA will not inspect a worker’s home office. It does not hold employers liable for these locations and employers are not expected to inspect them.

When OSHA receives a complaint about a home office, it will inform the person making the complaint about this policy. OSHA may give informal notification to employers about this complaint when an employee makes a specific request.

But an injury suffered while working at home may be a work-related injury, according to OSHA regulations. Injuries at home are work-related if the injury or illness takes place while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation at home, these were suffered in the performance of work and these injuries were unrelated to the general home environment or setting.

For example, a home injury is work-related when an employee drops a box containing work documents and injures their foot. Or a worker is injured when they are injured while using equipment when doing work for their employer at home.

Where the injury relates to a home defect, according to OSHA, it may not be related to work. If poor wiring electrocutes a worker at home, for example, the injury is not work-related.

There may be different rulings as this issue evolves in Pennsylvania. An attorney can gather evidence and help assure that a worker can seek their right to compensation for a work-related injury.