Lost day injuries for employees who work from home

Date Posted: 11/23/2020

Remote WorkerNormally, an employee who cannot report to work because of a recordable injury would incur “days away” on your OSHA 300 Log. However, if the employee regularly works from home, you might not have to record the case as days away.

OSHA interpretation

Normally, if an employee performs all routine job functions, an injury does not involve restricted work. However, a letter of interpretation from August 26, 2008, addressed this question: If a clerical employee injures her knee and cannot report to work, but performs all job duties from home, is this “days away”? The employer clarified that she does not normally work from home, but the doctor imposed a restriction of “may work from home.”

OSHA noted that working from home is not part of her normal routine, so the case would have to be recorded as days away, even though she performs all regular duties. However, OSHA noted that the answer would differ if she sometimes worked from home.

For example, if she ordinarily worked from home two days per week, the employer could count two days of restriction and three “days away” for each week of recovery. Interestingly, OSHA held that the doctor’s restriction (not reporting to the office) still counted as restricted work on days she worked from home, even though she performed all functions.

Remote worker injuries

This year, many employees switched to working from home full-time. Injuries that occur at home can be recordable. The regulation at 1904.5(b)(7) notes that if an employee drops a box of work documents and injures his or her foot, the case is work-related. However, if an employee is injured because he or she trips on the family dog while rushing to answer a work phone call, the case is not work-related.

A case like carpal tunnel might prevent the employee from performing all routine job functions or working the usual number of hours. Any restrictions on hours or duties would still be restricted work. However, a home worker who continues working from home probably doesn’t incur “lost days” unless he or she cannot work at all for some days.

To expand OSHA’s case of the clerical worker with a knee injury: if she had already been working from home full time, the case would still not involve days away. Further, if she continued performing all job functions (and working full hours) from home, the case wouldn’t seem to involve restricted work either, since there would be no change in work location. A restriction of “may work from home” wouldn’t seem to be a restriction if working from home is part of the employee’s normal routine. The injury may still be recordable due to medical treatment, but that’s a much lesser outcome for the 300 Log.

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