Industries Most Prone to Pandemic-Related Compensation Claims
While many have been able to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis, millions of others have not had that luxury. By the end of April, more than 5,000 employees in the food industry were not at work due to coronavirus. Here are the five industries that have been most affected by COVID-19 in terms of workers’ compensation claims.
Retail workers, especially at grocery stores, have been vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. The problem is that hundreds of patrons are coming into the store each day and touching things such as shopping carts and interacting with the workers. Even when employers do take full precautions to protect their workers, everyone is still vulnerable to infection. This is compounded by the fact that many stores were slow to implement safety precautions such as providing personal protective equipment and closing early to complete sanitizing measures. As a result, many retail workers have contracted COVID-19 on the job.
Meatpacking and Food Manufacturing
There have been numerous stories throughout the country about countless workers getting sick at meat plants, leading to partial or complete shutdowns. The problem with these types of manufacturing plants is that the workers are close together on the job and do not have the ability to socially distance. In addition, the companies often do not adequately sanitize the plants between shifts. Therefore, the workers end up touching equipment that carries the virus. Finally, many shift supervisors have been less than forthcoming with sick leave, forcing workers to show up on the job even when they are not feeling well. As a result of these impacts, the food security of the entire country has faced risks.
Anyone in the transportation industry, whether it be truck drivers or those working in mass transit, is at a higher risk of getting the coronavirus. For truck drivers, they have contact with people in warehouses as well as workers at the delivery point for their cargo. Moreover, they may be working long hours to make deliveries. This fatigue could hurt the immune system and lower resistance to the virus. For those working in transit, they interact with people who come into their space on a daily basis. This can include bus drivers, who have been getting ill at an alarming rate. Drivers and train conductors cannot control who boards a bus or train. Therefore, they are at higher risk.
Amazon has already faced multiple lawsuits from workers who claimed that they got sick on the job due to the lack of safety precautions. The problem with warehouses that makes them dangerous for workers during the pandemic is the fact that they are too vast to be sanitized properly. Workers who have COVID-19 can spread the virus throughout a large space. While employees are not packed together in a warehouse, they often traverse many different areas of the building, thereby carrying the virus to all corners of the workplace. In addition, there have been stories about draconian company policies during COVID-19 that include being very strict about sick leave.
The health care industry has been perhaps the hardest hit of any industry in the U.S. for obvious reasons. Only a month into the pandemic, over 9,000 workers got sick with the coronavirus. Of those, more than 300 died. Health care workers are the front line in caring for virus patients. Even if a health care employer takes extreme precautions to protect them, they still face dangers every day they show up to work. When health care workers do contract COVID-19, a workers’ comp lawyer can advise that there is a causation presumption that they got it at work. Therefore, most do not need to prove that work was the cause of their virus.
If you have contracted COVID-19 and believe that you got it at work, contact the workers’ comp lawyer at the Vorhees Law Firm today to set up your initial consultation. You can reach our office in Somerville, NJ, at (908) 200-2297.