Workplace Safety in a Hybrid Workplace | Scott Goodwin Law

Workplace Safety in a Hybrid Workplace

by / Friday, 09 July 2021 / Published in Workplace Woes
Wooden blocks spelling 'safe work' placed on a table next to a succulent plant.

For over a year now, going to work each day for many people has meant sitting down in front of a computer in their living room, basement, or dining room. But as we begin to see the end at the light of the tunnel that is the COVID pandemic and restrictions have been eased, many people won’t be returning to the workplace as they once knew it. In many cases, working from home full-time is here to stay. For others, they may be shifting into a hybrid workplace where people spend part of their time working from home and the other part of their time working in-person at the office. 

We’ve all heard the phrase “the new normal” what feels like a million times over the past year, but new normals can bring about new legal complications. In the case of hybrid workplaces, there are many different legal issues businesses need to think about if they’re adopting a hybrid workplace model, ranging from potentially having employees working all over the world to cybersecurity issues, just to name a few. Of course, questions of safety in the workplace still need to be addressed. 

Even in a hybrid workplace structure, employers still have a responsibility to make sure their workplace is free from things that could reasonably be seen as hazards. For example, walkways and stairways in offices still need to be kept free of trip hazards like boxes and electrical cords. During the winter, sidewalks and parking lots still need to be cleared of snow and it’s still important to make sure any water that gets tracked inside is promptly cleaned up. But what responsibility do employers have when it comes to safety issues when a person is working at home? 

When it comes to home offices, employers, in most cases, don’t have many legal obligations. Employers are not required to go out to employee homes and inspect home offices for potential hazards. But it’s a good idea for them to provide employees with information and resources that will help them create safe workplaces for themselves. 

Another thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that businesses are still required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. While this would certainly apply if someone is injured while working in the office, it could also apply if someone is injured while working from home. If you are injured while working from home, it’s very important to contact a workplace accident lawyer to learn more because whether or not workers’ compensation would cover your injuries can depend on the specific details of your case. For example, if someone working at home trips and falls while getting a cup of coffee during the workday, there’s a chance those injuries could be covered by workers’ comp since that is something they reasonably would have been doing if they were in the office. But if someone were to trip and fall in their home at a time when they weren’t working or while taking a break during the workday to do some household chores, those are less likely to be covered. 

Contact a Michigan Workplace Accident Lawyer

As workplaces continue to change, it’s only natural to have questions about how that will impact legal liability for worker safety. If you’ve been injured on the job, whether while in a traditional workplace or at home, a lawyer will be able to help you understand your legal options. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to talk to a lawyer experienced in handling workplace accidents and workers’ compensation cases in the state of Michigan. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Image: iStock / Aksana Kavaleuskaya