Telework has seen a significant increase in recent years, especially with the emergence of new technologies and the global pandemic that boosted the need to work from home. As this mode of work becomes more common, it is crucial to understand the associated occupational risks and take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of workers. In this article, we will explore in depth the truth about telework accidents and provide valuable information to help you stay protected.
Teleworking has become a popular form of employment, allowing people to work from the comfort of their homes. However, it is important to recognise that telework is not without its occupational hazards and that occupational safety and security are fundamental to telework. As more people adopt telework, it is essential to understand the potential hazards and how to deal with them appropriately.
What are workplace accidents in telework?
An accident at work is defined as an unexpected event occurring during the performance of a work activity that causes physical or psychological harm to the worker. In the context of teleworking, accidents at work can include injuries caused by poor ergonomics, eyestrain, mental health problems and other risks associated with teleworking.
An accident at work is defined as an unexpected event occurring during the performance of a work activity.
When does an accident at work occur?
According to the General Law on Social Security, an accident at work is any injury suffered by a worker in the workplace and during the time he/she is carrying out his/her duties.
More broadly, work-related injuries are considered to be illnesses, pathologies or injuries caused by work performed for another person.
In short, for an accident to be considered work-related, there must be bodily harm caused by injury, blow or disease while the worker is performing his or her duties for an employer, and there must be a cause-and-effect relationship between the injury and the work performed at a defined time and place.
How is an accident at work identified in teleworking?
We start from the premise that all accidents that occur during the working day and at the workplace are considered work-related accidents.
If a worker is teleworking from home and suffers an accident while working, it is considered an accident at work. However, this distinction is not always so clear-cut. If the accident occurs outside the time or place of work (e.g. during an unauthorised break or due to a heart attack related to work-related stress), the burden will be on the worker to prove that it was caused by work.
To be able to consider an accident as an occupational accident during telework, it is necessary to prove that it occurred during working time, at the place designated for telework and that the type of accident is related to the telework activity.
If a worker is teleworking from home and suffers an accident while working, it will be considered an accident at work. However, this distinction is not always clear-cut.
When is the accident considered to occur during working time?
Working time is the period during which the worker performs the tasks assigned by the company at his or her workplace.
The company must keep a record of the working time of its employees, even in the case of those who telework. Although this may be complicated by the flexible working hours of teleworking, the autonomy of the employee in the distribution of his or her time should not affect the recording of his or her working time. In addition, maximum working hours and mandatory rest periods must be respected.
What accidents are considered to be work-related?
NON-WORK ACCIDENT: If a worker whose working tool is a computer burns his hand with a clothes iron, even if the accident occurs during work time and in the workplace, it is not considered a work accident because the tool used is not related to his work.
ACCIDENT AT WORK: If a worker suffers for example a fall or an electric shock while working and at the designated telework place, it is considered an accident at work.
Work-related accidents in telework are also considered to be occupational accidents:
ACCIDENT AT WORK IN ITINERE: This occurs when the company authorises two different work locations and the worker suffers an accident on the journey between the two locations. It is also considered an accident at work if the worker suffers an accident on the way to a medical appointment established by the company as part of its risk prevention plan.
ACCIDENT AT WORK ON MISSION: If the worker suffers an accident while going out to buy material necessary for his/her work or if the company assigns him/her to travel to visit a client, for example.
ACCIDENT AT WORK DURING THE REST PERIOD: Since a rest period of at least fifteen minutes is established for all workers, including teleworkers, accidents occurring during these periods are also considered work-related.
Source: Onandia Abogados
Common occupational risks in teleworking
Telework presents a number of occupational hazards that can affect the health and well-being of workers. Some of the most common risks include ergonomic problems due to inadequate posture and inappropriate furniture, eyestrain caused by prolonged use of screens, social isolation and mental health problems due to lack of social interaction, as well as distractions and difficulty in establishing boundaries between work and personal life.
The company should keep a record of the working time of its employees, including those who telework.
Regulations and responsibilities in teleworking
It is important that both employers and workers understand the regulations and responsibilities that apply to telework in terms of workplace safety. Specific laws and regulations may vary from country to country, but in general, employers have a responsibility to ensure a safe working environment, including in the context of telework. Workers also have rights and obligations related to occupational safety that they should be aware of and exercise.
Preventive and protective measures in teleworking
There are a number of measures that workers can take to prevent and protect themselves from work-related accidents in telework. Some of these measures include maintaining proper ergonomics in the workspace, taking active breaks and exercising to prevent injuries and improve physical health, managing time efficiently and setting clear boundaries between work and personal life. It is also essential to maintain fluid communication with the employer and co-workers, as well as to promote self-care and mental health.
Resources and support for job security in teleworking
To ensure adequate occupational safety in telework, it is important to have access to specific resources and support. This may include access to information and materials on occupational safety and health, participation in training and education on occupational risk prevention in the context of telework, as well as the possibility of receiving advice and guidance on employment rights and responsibilities.
In summary, telework offers many advantages, but it also brings with it occupational risks that need to be properly addressed. By understanding the truth about teleworking accidents at work and taking preventive measures, you can ensure your safety and security while working from home Remember that health and wellbeing at work is paramount, no matter where you perform your professional duties. In conclusion, when it comes to classifying an accident as an occupational accident of a teleworker, we must analyse the following:
Formal issues such as the type of employment relationship between the worker and the employer and the conditions agreed between the parties.
The producing agent (usual, logical for the development of the activity, made available by the employer….).
The place where the accident occurred, on the understanding that the presumption of work-relatedness does not apply within the private sphere of the teleworker,
Therefore, in these cases it is more important to establish the causal relationship between the material causal agent and the injury produced, leaving out of the consideration of work-related those accidents that could occur and which have nothing to do with the work activity to be carried out.
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