States continue to enact legislation to make it easier for those considered necessary workers to file COVID-19 workers' compensation claims, but new research shows that most coronavirus exposure comes from the spread of society, not from the workplace.
Despite the proliferation of COVID-19 adoption laws and executive orders, some experts are optimistic that more studies on the nature of coronavirus transmission may help employers defend themselves against compensation claims for non-work-related COVID-19 infections.
A study of 24,000 workers conducted by four universities in four major health care systems between April and August 2020 found that the majority of COVID-1
"We have seen similar types of anecdotal data," said Deborah Roy, Falmouth, Maine-based president of SafeTech Consultants Inc. and elected president of the American Society of Safety Professionals. “(Employer with) good routines in place, they have had very little transfer, if any. … It makes perfect sense that the positive cases probably come from society. … This type of study, as we get further into the pandemic, will begin to come as part of the testimony. "
" It will certainly give employers something to use when trying to disprove these assumptions, "said Mike Fish, Birmingham, Alabama-based founding member of Fish Nelson & Holden LLC Law Firm and former president of National Workers' Compensation Defense. Network. "In states like (Alabama) it will only make their defenses so much stronger. It will be interesting to see what effect this report has on the management of COVID employees and how it will be used.
Ms. Roy said a large hospital client of hers also found that most of her coronavirus cases were community-based because there was no evidence that employees had acquired the virus from an employee or spread it to others in the hospital.  "If you introduce appropriate controls for COVID-19, do not assume that you will receive a transfer at the workplace," says Roy.
In a state like California, which has a law that requires healthcare professionals who acquire COVID-19 to do so in the course of their employment, employers are already beginning "at a disadvantage. … To prove or overcome that assumption. is like a Mount Everest challenge, says Anthony Cannizzo, partner at the Los Angeles office in Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP. "This (study) highlights the dangers of making automatic assumptions based on profession alone."  While many hospitals have anecdotally found that employees who have received COVID-19 did not do so through patient contact, Cannizzo said it is unlikely that a study like this would make a difference in a dispute over comp.
"I do not think we have had enough time for these cases to prove a statistically significant sample size to rely on, "he said." At the end of the day, I think there will be evidence. … There is nothing the employer can trust other than that do robusta u surveys … that may show exposure in another context, otherwise you take up the statement because that's what the assumption is designed to do. ”
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