Under the state’s industrial insurance laws, a worker who, in the course of employment, is injured or suffers disability from an occupational disease is entitled to certain benefits. Proving an occupational disease requires a worker to show the disease arose naturally and proximately out of employment.
Certain occupations, such as firefighters, have a presumption that certain medical conditions are occupational diseases because dangerous nature of the occupation and regular exposure to certain conditions.
Pursuant to Senate Bill 5115, that presumption has been expanded to frontline workers, such as first responders, food processing employees, hospital janitorial staff, mass transit drivers, child care providers, restaurant workers, school district employees, and many more.
For frontline employees, there exists a presumption that any infectious or contagious diseases that are transmitted through respiratory droplets or aerosols, or through contact with contaminated surfaces and are the subject of a public health emergency are occupational diseases during a public health emergency for the purposes of workers’ compensation.
The presumption may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence that the exposure to the disease occurred from other employment or non-employment activities; or the employee was working from the employee’s home or was on leave for a period of quarantine consistent with recommended guidance from state and federal health officials immediately prior to the employee’s injury, occupational disease, or period of incapacity that resulted from exposure to the disease.
Costs of the payments under the occupational disease presumption do not affect the experience rating of the employers insured by the state fund.
For a free workers’ compensation consultation with our attorneys in Olympia or Centralia call (360) 736-1301 or visit www.Centralialawc.om