As COVID-19 continues to spread, the health of workers is at risk in many different work environments. The financial impact of the illness and access to health care are major issues for many families. In some situations, the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act can help.
Communicable diseases are considered to be personal injuries under the Act in narrowly defined circumstances. The actual language of the law is: ”Personal injury” includes infectious or contagious diseases if the nature of the employment is such that the hazard of contracting such diseases by an employee is inherent in the employment.”
In general terms, this means that if the work you do creates a special hazard of contracting a communicable disease, you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits. It is likely that health care workers, hospital employees, and nursing home caregivers, for example, have a special risk of exposure to infection from the nature of their work. This special risk is less apparent for workers in an office setting or on a construction site.
Workers’ compensation benefits provide a weekly disability payment and medical costs. This is a no-fault system and the administration of the Workers’ Compensation Act is operating through the Department of Industrial Accidents in a reasonably efficient and effective manner.