In 2020 and much of 2021, we found ourselves in a health crisis of historic proportions. Although COVID-19 is no longer an all-consuming issue, it continues to rear its head from time to time.
We understand that many of you are considered essential workers and cannot stay home and stay safe if COVID returns. You are out there on the front lines, risking your health and your family’s safety every day. We are grateful for the work you are doing, and want to provide the information you need about your options for workers’ compensation if you do—or already have—become infected with COVID-19.
When Workers’ Comp Covers Infectious Disease
The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) will process claims for COVID-19. BWC Administrator Stephanie McCloud said that some applications were quickly dismissed, but that they are continuing to investigate other claims. She encouraged people who “work in a job that poses a special hazard or risk and can track that to COVID-19” to file a claim. This follows the BWC’s policy of only covering people for an infectious disease when their job required them to come in contact with an infected person. Democrats in the Ohio House of Representatives introduced legislation in March, 2021 that would classify COVID-19 as an occupational disease to make the workers’ comp approval process easier for at-risk workers. Still, so far, that bill has not been taken up.
Who Would Likely Be Covered in Ohio
If your job puts you in contact with people infected with the coronavirus, you should be eligible to file a workers’ comp claim if you become infected. We expected to see valid applications from these kinds of workers:
- Healthcare workers. Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nurse assistants, and all other healthcare workers treating patients with COVID-19 are at risk of becoming infected and should have a strong claim for workers’ comp if they become ill. Healthcare workers not working directly with known coronavirus patients are also at risk higher than the general population and should be covered if they become sick.
- First responders. EMTs, firefighters, and law enforcement officers are required by their jobs to come in contact with people who may be infected, putting them at risk. If a first responder contracts the coronavirus, he or she should be covered by workers’ comp.
- Nursing home employees. Workers who support our most vulnerable population, whether they are healthcare workers, housekeeping staff, or food service employees, are also on the front lines of this virus.
- Hospital workers. The coronavirus can live on surfaces for several days. That means that the people who clean up after patients in hospitals are facing hazardous conditions and are at high risk of becoming infected with the virus.
As cases have proceeded over the last couple years, it's become clear that healthcare providers are pretty much the only folks who'll have a chance their claim will be allowed. And such workers must still prove they were infected at work by producing a positive COVID test result and a physician's opinion that its work-related.
Contact Monast Law Office With Your Questions
The past couple years have been stressful and confusing times for all of us. At Monast Law Office, we are working diligently to support our current clients and to help new clients with their concerns. Fill out our contact form on this page or call our office if you have questions about a possible workers’ comp claim. We are here for you!