Protecting employees who work in remote locations
Employers in Pennsylvania and around the country are expected to do all that they reasonably can to keep their employees safe, and this duty extends to workers in remote locations. Even highly skilled and experienced employees must be properly trained and adequately supervised when they work on the road or at offsite locations, and employers may face OSHA sanctions when they fail to meet these standards.
Oversight is particularly important because unsupervised workers may be more likely to act recklessly and misbehave, but conducting regular inspections of all offsite workplaces is impractical for many employers. However, OSHA standards require employers to have accident-prevention programs in place that include regular offsite visits, and workers must also be provided with training that helps them to recognize the unique dangers of remote locations and the injury or illness hazards associated with them.
In addition to having the appropriate policies and procedures in place, employers hoping to meet these standards should keep detailed records of their training efforts and site visits. Remote locations should be properly surveyed before work begins, and only employees who have shown themselves to be responsible and who are capable of the duties to be performed should be permitted to work unsupervised. Workers should also be told what to do and who to call in the event that accidents or injuries occur.
When employees are injured in remote locations, their employers might contest their workers’ compensation claims by arguing that their injuries are not work related. Attorneys with experience in this area may gather evidence in anticipation of such arguments. They could also point out that injured workers may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even if they acted negligently.