As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for personal protective equipment (“PPE”) has risen dramatically. This equipment includes masks, face shields, and other protective gear that may make working in the present environment safer for those who come into contact with the public. PPE has become a necessity in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 for not only frontline workers such as healthcare professionals and first responders, but also for other essential workers like cashiers and delivery people.
To address the mounting need for PPE, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently issued an executive order that would require that essential workers wear face masks in order to halt the spread of coronavirus. The Governor’s order requires employers to provide essential workers with cloth or surgical masks when interacting with the public. The directive includes a wide range of workers, including transit workers, grocery store workers, utility workers, building employees and others.
In addition, the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (“OSHA”) requires employers to pay for PPE used to comply with OSHA standards. Even when a worker provides his or her own PPE, the employer must ensure that the equipment is adequate to protect the worker from hazards at the workplace.
Despite the federal and state requirements for employers to provide PPE to workers on the frontlines in the battle against the coronavirus, many employers have been unable to keep up with the demand for PPE. This has left their employees – and the public – exposed and at greater risk for contracting COVID-19. Although New York’s workers’ compensation law prevents a worker from suing his or her employer for personal injury, workers can still file a complaint about the lack of proper PPE with OSHA, PESH (for public sector workers) or the New York State Department of Labor.
However, if you contract COVID-19 – or any other illness for that matter – as a result of your employer’s failure to provide adequate safety assistance and PPE, and you can trace the source of your illness back to exposure at work, you may file for workers’ compensation benefits. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will be required to pay you while you are out of work due to the illness and for the cost of medical care while you are recovering.
We at Grey & Grey are ready to assist you with all of your questions concerning COVID-19 exposure at work and can assist you in filing your claim. While the pandemic is a new event, our experience in handling cases involving exposure to infectious diseases is not. Grey & Grey has decades of experience in handling occupational diseases and accident claims of all kinds. Please call us to find out more, but most importantly, stay safe!
To read more about OSHA’s PPD requirement and standards click here: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/personalprotectiveequipment/
To learn more about the Governor’s order directing employers to provide PPE, click the following link: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news