We Detail the Ohio BWC Guidelines Regarding Workers’ Compensation for Poison Ivy  

Encountering poison ivy can be a miserable experience. This harmless-looking plant has an oil called urushiol that triggers an allergic reaction in most people upon contact. The reaction can lead to intense itching, redness and swelling, and blisters on the skin and in the lungs. While no one wants to encounter this troublesome plant, there are certain instances when it cannot be avoided—for example, if you’re a landscaper working outside. 

If you’re exposed to poison ivy while performing a job-related duty and it becomes a serious complication, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) indicates that you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical expenses and time off work. At Monast Law Office, we want to ensure you understand your rights and whether this exposure is considered a workplace injury, so let’s look closer.

When Is Poison Ivy Exposure Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?

Workers' compensation provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees who develop an injury or illness during employment. As long as you’re a regular employee and not an independent contractor, Ohio workers' comp should cover your poison ivy exposure. However, these criteria must be met:  

  • Job-related exposure. This means there must be a direct link to the work environment or the tasks assigned by your employer. For example, outdoor professionals such as landscapers, utility staff, and construction workers are likelier to encounter poison ivy as part of their regular job duties. While extenuating circumstances might apply in other types of employment, there still must be proof that your duties put you in contact with poison ivy. Otherwise, your claim will be denied. 
  • Medical condition requiring treatment. However, note that simply coming into contact with poison ivy isn’t enough; there must be a reaction that requires medical attention.
  • Lost work time. If the allergic reaction to poison ivy is severe enough to prevent you from performing your job, this absence can be a basis for workers' compensation.

What to Do After You Tangle With Poison Ivy at Work

If you’re performing your duties and notice symptoms such as a rash, redness, blisters, and itching, or if you have trouble breathing because poison ivy is being burned, it’s critical to do the following to first care for your health and second, prepare to file a workers’ compensation claim.  

  • Take immediate action. Wash the affected area as soon as possible with soap and water to remove the urushiol oil left on your skin from the poison ivy. Avoid scratching, as this can worsen the reaction and lead to infection.
  • Report the exposure. When you realize it’s poison ivy, report it to your supervisor or employer. Timely reporting is important in workers' comp cases to show a clear link between the exposure and your job duties.
  • Seek medical attention. Visit a healthcare provider to document the severity of the reaction and receive appropriate treatment. Medical records serve as critical evidence in your claim.
  • Document the incident. Keep detailed records of the exposure, including the date, time, location, and circumstances of the exposure. Photographs of the affected area and notes on the work activities performed can strengthen your claim. 
  • Collect witness statements. If coworkers can attest to the presence of poison ivy in the work area, their supportive statements reinforce your benefits request. 
  • File a workers' compensation claim. You must file a First Report of Injury (FROI) in Ohio with the BWC. You can do this online, by phone, or through your employer.
  • Follow up on medical treatment. Be certain to go to all medical appointments and follow the prescribed treatment plan. Keep all medical records and receipts as part of your documentation.

Yes, encountering poison ivy may be an unusual job-related illness, but if it happened during your duties and is interfering with your ability to work, you have a right to file a claim. At Monast Law Office, we’re eager to provide valuable guidance to determine if the exposure qualifies for workers' compensation benefits and help you take the steps to be compensated for your medical expenses and lost wages. 




James Monast
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Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation Attorney in Columbus, Ohio