If you have been exposed at work to an occupational disease, such as COVID-19, make sure to follow these steps to ensure your chances that workers’ compensation will accept your injury and to get the proper medical treatment.
Get Medical Treatment
The most important thing to do is to make sure you are taking the appropriate steps to treat the symptoms and to self-quarantine to prevent spreading the virus to others. Currently, there is no vaccine and no treatment for COVID-19. While this may be the case, it is recommended you contact your health care professional immediately to discuss treatment options. Make sure to discuss with the doctor where you believe you contracted the virus, so it gets appropriately documented.
If it is an emergency, contact your hospital or clinic before going so they can be prepared for your arrival. If you are tested for COVID-19, the results should be passed along to your employer or workers’ compensation insurer. If a laboratory test is not available, make sure you get diagnosed by a licensed physician, licensed physician’s assistant, or licensed advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), based on your symptoms.
If you have any of these emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately:
• Trouble breathing
• Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
• New confusion or inability to arouse
• Bluish lips or face
This list is not all possible symptoms. Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.
Report Your Injury
It is important that you report your injury to the employer by informing them you were exposed to COVID-19 at work. It is best practice to inform your employer in writing and keep a copy for yourself as well. However, the law just requires that notice be given so a reasonable person would know that you had a work-related injury. Therefore, telling your supervisor – either over the phone, in person, by text or email – would be sufficient. Notifying your employer allows them to take steps to limit the spread of the virus. It also allows the employer to provide medical treatment when appropriate to minimize the seriousness of the exposure.
The date of injury for an employee who has contracted COVID-19 is the date the employee was unable to work due to contraction of COVID-19, or was unable to work due to symptoms that were later diagnosed as COVID-19, whichever occurred first.
Keep detailed records and be prepared to provide your employer with facts to support your claim as soon as you know or suspect you have COVID-19. For example, consider the following.
– Why do you believe you contracted COVID-19 at work? When were you exposed at work, who were you exposed to and when did you develop symptoms? Can you identify one or more people with COVID-19 you were exposed to?
– When did you develop symptoms, when did you contact a health care provider and when did you notify your employer of those symptoms?
– When did you last work? If you are no longer working for the employer, why not?
– If you think you might be covered by the presumption law, provide facts to show you were employed in one of the listed occupations. What is your occupation? Where did you work at the time you became ill? What were your job responsibilities? Who did you have contact with as part of your job duties?
– If you are a health care worker, did you care for or assist a person with COVID-19 or did you work on a COVID-19 unit? What dates did you work with a person with COVID-19 or work on a COVID-19 unit? Do you know the names of people with COVID-19 you cared for or assisted? It may be helpful to keep notes of any close contacts you have had with COVID-19 positive people while at work.
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