If I contract an infectious disease at work, will I be covered by workers’ comp?

Workers' comp for infectious diseasesPeople often think of workers’ comp as an insurance program for work-related injuries—which it is—but it also covers illnesses that are contracted due to workplace exposure. Some examples of work-related illness include respiratory conditions, hearing loss, skin diseases, heatstroke, and heavy metal or gas poisoning.

While these diseases result from dangerous conditions in the work environment, an employee may also contract an infectious disease in the course and scope of employment. In some cases, those individuals will also be covered by workers’ compensation.

No Coverage for the Common Cold

Catching an illness like a cold, the flu, chickenpox, or measles from a coworker doesn't qualify for workers’ compensation. You can take sick days and work with your private health insurance regarding payment of medical bills. Even if you catch these airborne diseases from a customer or patient as you're doing your job, you won't be covered by workers’ comp in Ohio.

So What Kinds of Infectious Disease Are Covered?

According to the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, private employers are required under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to pay for all costs related to worker exposure to infectious diseases through contact with blood or other bodily fluids. There doesn't have to be an unavoidable accident or physical injury for this coverage to apply, but it doesn't include airborne exposure.

Public employers aren't subject to OSHA rules, but under Ohio law, they must offer the same coverage for emergency workers, including peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. If these workers, or any private employees, come in contact with the bodily fluid of a person infected with a communicable disease, they should be compensated for:

  • Office visits
  • Emergency room visits
  • Tetanus, HIV, or hepatitis testing
  • Suturing or dressing of wounds
  • Physician evaluation/management, including counseling
  • Prophylactic medication
  • Follow-up testing/treatment required according to the current Centers for Disease Control protocol.

In order to have these costs covered, it's important that you report the exposure incident as soon as possible. If you were potentially exposed to an infectious disease by a splash or spatter in the eye or mouth, skin puncture, cut, open sore, wound, lesion, abrasion or ulcer, or in the course of performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, your medical costs should be compensated.

Call Monast Law Office If You Have Any Problems

These kinds of claims should be straightforward in Ohio, but if you're struggling to get medical testing or prophylactic treatment paid for by your employer, give us a call. To learn more about your right to workers’ compensation, request a free download of our book, The Worker’s Guide to Injury Compensation in Ohio.

 

 

James Monast
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Fighting for Ohio’s Injured Workers and their Families