Magazine article HRMagazine

Neglecting Ergonomics Safety for Teleworkers Can Be Costly

Magazine article HRMagazine

Neglecting Ergonomics Safety for Teleworkers Can Be Costly

Article excerpt

Employers and employees often overlook workplace safety practices, including proper ergonomics, during telework arrangements, possibly increasing the risk of injury or health problems to employees-and the risk of liability to employers.

There are many benefits to telework, such as improved recruitment, productivity and work/life balance. Telework also can reduce overhead and accommodation costs, as well as stress levels and commute time. But risks from not paying attention to ergonomics are very real.

The Telework Learning Center in Fairfax, Va., collected data on the health of teleworkers from 2003 to 2006 and found ergonomics problems to be a primary concern. Among teleworkers who participated in the study, 38 percent reported work-related discomfort, soreness or pain, most commonly in the back, wrists, neck and shoulders. Those who teleworked more days per week were more likely to experience such pain.

Telecommuting remains a relatively new option for employees, and the workers' compensation implications are still crystallizing. But employers can lessen their susceptibility to liability:

Pick the right employee. Steve Thompson, president of Aspen Risk Management Group and ERGOhealthy, an ergonomics consulting company, advises employers to choose trustworthy and loyal employees. …

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