IATSE Local 728 COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Update
IATSE Local 728 is committed to ensuring the safety of our members during these difficult times. As many of us anticipate returning to our craft of set lighting, we must ensure that we know our rights in the workplace, not only to protect ourselves, but also so we protect our families, fellow union brothers and sisters, and others in the community. Starting in mid-March we thought that if a nexus between work and COVID-19 could be made, contracting the virus could lead to a worker compensation claim.
Hopefully, when work resumes and all the proper protocols are followed, everyone will be safe, and we won’t have to worry about a worker compensation claim.
What is COVID-19 and what are the symptoms of COVID-19?
• COVID-19 is a novel, i.e., new, coronavirus discovered in 2019.
• Frequent COVID-19 symptoms include coughing, congestion, shortness of breath, fever, headache, and sore throat. This is a short list.
COVID-19 may cause, impact, or aggravate other medical conditions.
• It is possible that the coronavirus may cause new medical conditions to arise from the infection, impact, or aggravate other medical conditions.
• Complications may also develop from the treatment of the COVID-19, such as side effects of medications, intubation etc.
Be sure to follow all safety precautions and orders to avoid infection and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
• Basic COVID-19 safety precautions include: wearing a face covering; practicing physical distancing of being at least 6 feet apart from other persons; using hand sanitizer; frequently washing your hands; avoiding touching your eyes and face; and when possible limiting public interactions.
What workers’ compensation benefits am I entitled to if I have COVID-19?
• Under the Workers Compensation system, you may be entitled to benefits for your injury or illness that includes medical treatment, temporary disability for time lost from work, and permanent disability for a lifelong disability or impairment.
What is the current workers’ compensation law for COVID-19?
• On 5/6/20, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, signed emergency Executive Order (EO) N-62-20 expanding the protections for essential workers that contract COVID-19 during the stay at home order.
• The Executive Order creates a rebuttable presumption that the COVID-19 infection is industrial if an essential worker:
(1) Tested positive for COVID-19 or was diagnosed with COVID-19.
(2) COVID-19 is confirmed by a positive test within 14 days of performing a labor or service at a place of work after the stay at home order was issued on 3/19/20. This presumption currently extends to 7/5/2020.
• Even employees not covered by the Executive Order may have a Workers Compensation claim for COVID-19 infection depending on the facts of their injury or illness.
What should I do if I develop COVID-19 due to my work on the job?
• Seek medical attention. If you develop COVID-19, due to the serious nature of the infection, you should consult with a doctor right away. Due to symptoms being similar to many other illnesses, if you are experiencing serious symptoms, such as trouble breathing or pain or pressure in the chest, you should seek prompt medical attention.
• Document your exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace with medical treatment. We recommend that you keep a file of all documentation and records related to your COVID-19 treatment from urgent care, hospital visits, doctor appointments, etc.
• You should also document your personal observations regarding COVID-19. You may document your observations through your own records in the form of a journal, diary, or timeline, detailing your exposure on the job to COVID-19 and the development of any symptoms of infection.
Should I notify my employer if I have COVID-19?
• If you believe you contracted COVID-19 due to your job, you should IMMEDIATELY notify your employer.