The recent scare concerning the Ebola virus alerted hospitals and other healthcare facilities about the dangers of exposure among hospital and healthcare workers. Since exposure to viruses could easily occur among health care workers and other staff at medical facilities, the institutions must provide their staff with a workers compensation policy in the event they become too ill to perform their duties, as well as pose a health risk to patients and other workers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government partners are taking precautions to prevent the spread of disease in facilities across the US. After all, health care professionals (HCP) have a right to a safe workplace. State laws require employers to provide their employees with working conditions that are free from recognized hazards.
Those working in healthcare settings have the potential for exposure to patients and/or to infectious materials, including bodily fluids, contaminated medical supplies and equipment, contaminated environmental surfaces, or aerosols generated during certain medical procedures.
HCP include, but are not limited to, physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, therapists, technicians, emergency medical service personnel, dental personnel, pharmacists, and laboratory personnel, as well as students and interns.
Most facilities have rules on accident prevention program emergency plans and job hazard recognition, respiratory and personal protection equipment requirements, and the biological agents and blood borne pathogens rules where a dangerous virus might be encountered.
Workers compensation policy coverage and claims
Workers’ compensation coverage provides medical benefits and also protects workers from the financial impact of any work-related injury or occupational illness. Coverage would naturally include diseases and other types of viruses resulting from workplace exposures when the distinctive duties of the job put the worker at risk of exposure.
Workers who have a work-related exposure to any virus requiring that they be medically quarantined for any extended period of time would be eligible for wage-replacement benefits during that time period if their employer does not keep them on salary. The only stipulation being that the quarantine must be medically required by a worker’s health care provider (in compliance with CDC or state guidelines).