Can Injuries Sustained While An Employee Works From Home Be Covered Under Ohio’s Workers’ Compensation System?

Donald G. Drinko By Donald G. Drinko

Since the onset of Covid-19 most families have experienced working from home, and some have been injured doing so. Under Ohio Revised Code § 4123.01(C) a compensable work injury is defined as those “received in the course of, and arising out of, the injured employee’s employment,” but subject to the exclusions. But what if the employee is injured performing work activities while at home? Would this type of injury still be compensable?

The Ohio legislature recently attempted to address this issue with the passage of H.B. 447, which went into effect on September 23, 2022. This bill amended § 4123.01 of the Ohio Revised Code in order to allow for employees who work from home to be covered under the workers’ compensation system for injuries sustained while performing work activities, but only under limited circumstances. H.B. 447 adds an additional exclusion for injuries sustained by an employee who performs the employee’s duties in a work area that is located within the employee’s home, and that is separate and distinct from the location of the employer. With the changes made by H.B. 447, injuries sustained while an employee is working from home are not compensable unless each of the following three requirements are met: 1.) the employee’s injury or disability arises out of the employee’s employment; 2.) the employee’s injury or disability was caused by a special hazard of the employee’s employment activity; and 3.) the employee’s injury or disability is sustained in the course of an activity undertaken by the employee for the exclusive benefit of the employer.

The end result of the changes made by the newly effective H.B. 447, will be that home-based injuries will be more difficult to prove. The meaning applied to “special hazard,” “exclusive benefit” are unclear and will develop over time. It is important for employers to be aware of this change, and the potential for additional claims stemming from injuries sustained by employees who work from home as a result of these changes. If you would like to submit a question to Shop talk, or would like to discuss this or any other workers’ compensation issues, please feel free to contact me.