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Workplace Safety


By July 1, 2012No Comments

The more your employees use mobile devices on company business, the more likely they are to suffer injuries – and the greater your exposure to Workers Compensation losses – even if the incident occurs off the clock or away from the workplace!

We’re no longer living in a Monday-Friday, 9-to-5 business world. Millions of workers rely on smart phones, laptops, and tablets for company business outside the office, posing a challenge to traditional definitions of work-related claims. Some 35 million Americans are working from homes, cars, airports, subways, the local wireless cafe — even at the beach during vacations! One survey found that nearly three in five respondents (59%) check their office e-mail when on vacation, while 79% pack their laptop along with their swimsuit or skis.

A combination of factors are contributing to the explosive growth of this “cyberworkalohic” behavior: Job insecurity in today’s uncertain economy, pressure (real or perceived) from peers or managers, the demands of working in today’s global, 24-7 business environment — and the blurring of distinctions between office and home environments among younger, tech-savvy workers.

Consider these scenarios:

  • An employee on her evening jog is using her cell phone to check on office e-mails when she stumbles on the curb, falls, and breaks her arm.
  • While stuck in traffic on his way home from work, a man receives a work-related text message that’s so upsetting he rear-ends another car, injuring his back.

What happens if these workers file Workers Comp claims for job-related injuries? That depends. The growth in employees’ work-related use of mobile devices away from the job is so recent that courts haven’t yet ruled on whether such claims are compensable.

To reduce exposing your business to this increasingly widespread risk — which could drive up your Comp premiums — it makes sense to set and enforce clear and comprehensive rules for using mobile devices on company business outside the work environment. The goal of this “best practice” approach is to create a corporate culture that maintains a balance between increasing productivity and keeping your workers as safe, and injury free, as possible — on and off the job.

For advice on designing guidelines for employee use of mobile devices, just get in touch with us.