The BC Health Minister may have laid out the province’s restart plan (thank goodness!) but not everything will go back to normal. Many companies will continue to let staff work from home for a significant portion of the work week. Canadian Underwriter reports that 42% of remote workers are feeling more productive while 37% are experiencing an increase in the quality of their work. The companies employing them are most certainly taking note. But while there is more productivity, less stress, and greater convenience, unforeseen insurance risks are unveiling themselves under this new workplace world order. In response, stay-at-home staff will need to be more mindful. Let’s have a look at these threats.
3 Inflated Insurance and Liability Risks Professionals Need to Be Aware of If They Continue Working from Home
Increased Risk of Household Fire
The Red Cross reports that the risk of a household fire is greater on Saturdays and Sundays, and in general peaks between 6 and 7 PM each day of the week. In other words, when people are home. This has quickly become a 24/7 problem.
When working from home, you’re using the kitchen far more than you normally would. You’re in there cooking at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and may even fire-up the stove to heat the kettle for coffee or tea at any point during the workday. The risk of a kitchen fire goes up with the increased usage. Factor in distractions that may occur, such as an incoming work call, SMS, email, or virtual meeting request, and you may forget all about that open flame. The analogy may seem silly, but like with driving, remove all distractions (i.e. put the phone away) when using the stove so that you stay focused until the moment you turn off the gas or electrical element.
In addition, if your job involves the use of flammables (paints, chemicals, solvents, etc.) that you must now keep at home, create a safe and dedicated space (preferably outside) to use and store them.
Increased Risk of Common At-Home Accidents
Slips, trips and falls are the most common accidents in a household. Now that you’re there more often, perhaps an additional 8 to ten hours per day, the risk increases proportionately. Your company’s workplace has/had cleaning staff and protocols in place to ensure a safe working environment. In the office, shop, or warehouse, items are not strewn about the floor, obstacles are not in the way of foot traffic, spills are cleaned up immediately, and so forth. This is done to protect staff, but also prevent liability claims. Can you say the same for your current workspace – your home?
Take a look around. Are there toys on the stairs? Is there a greasy spot on the kitchen floor? Electrical cables sprawling out from beneath your desk? You will need to start considering your home like an office manager would a workspace, and take every precaution to ensure that staff (you) and others on premises (your family) are not at risk of slips, trips, falls, and any other injury-inducing event that can happen in a workplace.
Increased Risk of Damage to Expensive Work-from-Home Devices
Laptops, tablets, workstations, and the other expensive devices that you used to use solely in a traditional workspace are now home with you. In fact, TechRadar reports that over 50% of remote staff are using their own devices and software to work from home. While it may seem more convenient to not have to switch back and forth between personal and company-provided hardware/software, you take on considerable risk. Collectively, the tools you use typically cost into the thousands of dollars. Yet here you are, with your coffee mug next to your $2500 Macbook, eating Corn Flakes over the keyboard, and running multiple software applications with limited electrical which can lead to overheating and malfunction.
Be more careful when it comes to your own activities, such as eating and drinking near expensive electronics. If you notice them heating up, close the applications and devices and take a 20-minute break. Beyond this, speak to your employer about using company-provided devices (which they will insure). If not viable, talk to your homeowners insurance provider to find out what is or is not covered by your existing policy given that you will continue to work from home. You may need to adjust your coverage.
Insurance issues that were once considered commercial in nature are now homeowner concerns too. Schedule a consultation with Park Insurance today to ensure that you’re protected.