With the pandemic racing across the US at such a high pace, everyone with a job is wondering the same thing: what happens if I contract COVID-19 on the job?
From the loss of wages to the healthcare expenses, it is a valid concern for everyone who not only works with the general public but also being in close quarters with their co-workers. No one can guarantee their co-workers or customers are following the proper social distancing guidelines.
If you contract COVID-19 on the job site or off, work may be the last thing you are thinking about as you are trying to get well.
However, eventually, bills must be paid and the companies must figure out a way to compensate workers who have contracted the virus while on the job or have an on the job injury due to COVID-19 related comorbidities.
The Effect of COVID-19 on the Body
By now, most of the population has heard of the effect COVID-19 can have on the body before they officially know and while the sickness is ravaging their body. The lack of taste and smell, fever, weakness, and respiratory illness are the hallmarks most people experience when ill with COVID-19, but these symptoms may only present themselves days after infection. Some individuals can stay at home and recuperate while others require hospitalization.
The severity of COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate, nor is there a solid mark for those who are affected. Elderly patients may contract it and survive while people in their early 20’s with perfect health pass away soon after the onset of the virus. Not having a concrete set of standards on what could possibly happen to certain ages causes many problems with how to treat such an illness.
The fact that the illness has a wide variety of effects on different bodies and different ages gives healthcare professionals a long list of potential long-term effects on the human body. Muscle fatigue, loss of range of motion, chronic pulmonary issues, and long term heart weakness for those who have recovered from COVID-19 not only create havoc on their personal lives but also in a person’s professional life.
Long-Term Effects of COVID-19 in the Workplace
Coming back to work after at least a two-week medical absence will have almost anyone feeling off-kilter. A person having to get back into the rhythm of their job with one or more of the long term effects of the virus can cause stress on the employee and affect the jobs of those working around them.
A person in a more physically demanding job will have the struggle of trying to keep up with their co-workers while fighting against the long term effects they are left to deal with.
The effects of this type of physical battle will also take a toll on a person, mentally wearing them out while physically draining them. With both physical and mental health at constant war, while a person is working, occupational injuries are likely to happen which could lead to workers’ compensation.
Liability of Companies
While COVID-19 is not classified as a workplace injury, some workers’ unions are already taking steps to try and get essential workers the ability to claim being exposed to COVID-19 as a workplace injury. Companies would then be able to use their Workplace Compensation or Workplace Safety Insurance to cover COVID-19 as a workplace injury.
However, the long-term side effects of COVID-19 could lead to injuries in the workplace, which companies must treat as any other workplace incident. These types of incidents are on the rise and are steadily raising the long term costs of workers’ compensation in companies.
The Steps Companies Can Take To Help Prevent Workplace Injuries
They say “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This is the mindset management should take when thinking about what they can do to help prevent a workplace incident that could cost the company money as well as make the workplace a safer environment for employees.
Management in the Construction and other physical labor fields should focus on the following:
- Ergonomics Training: The number one injury in most work environments is back injuries. With the proper training in ergonomics and a self-assessment program for employees to check in with to make sure they are doing everything correctly, the numbers will shrink.
- Training in Standard Operating Procedures: By having a comprehensive training program for employees on the Standard Operating Procedures, it will reduce mistakes and give everyone a set guideline to follow in case an incident does happen to make a checklist on what to do so it can be prevented from happening again.
- Encourage Communication: This is the most important step by far. Think back on how many times someone has been hurt because they didn’t hear something right, or management didn’t listen when the employee stated they were not in a good physical or mental health state to do their job. How many times have you gone to work sick because you thought you could do your job only to figure out way too late you overestimated your ability to work while ill? By communicating the physical limitations one feels they can prevent overtaxing themselves which could lead to injury.
- Encouraging Focusing on Employee’s Health and Well-Being: The number of companies who are demanding the employee’s put the company above the employee’s own wellbeing. This leads to burnout and employees cutting corners to just get through the day. Going hand in hand with encouraging communication, a companies’ employees should be told they can come to management to say they are feeling overwhelmed or pushed too far. It will help not only keep someone overworked from making a fatal mistake, but also a more positive work environment.
- Limit Overtime: With the number of financial troubles coming up in this pandemic, people are pushing themselves to make more money to cover the possible job loss of someone else in the house or to save up in case they lose their jobs. This can lead to being overworked and an employee could make mistakes with lapses of judgment. Limiting overtime may make your employees upset, but it will save money for companies and employees in the long run.
What to Do When an Accident Does Happen
The long-term effects of COVID-19 can make it difficult to do a job and if your company refuses to accommodate your needs or has terminated you as a result, you have options.
For expertise in workman’s compensation law and to connect with compassionate legal counsel in Minnesota, reach out to Sundquist Law Firm. If you have been injured on the job or have contracted COVID-19 on the worksite, and can no longer work in your original capacity, we can help. We’re happy to help you fill out forms, prepare your evidence, and make your claim. Contact us today, and let Sundquist Law fight for you.