SYSTEM FAILURE: ESSENTIAL WORKERS AND COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, exposure to the virus was a hazard of employment for health care workers, essential workers, and others for whom remote work was not an option.  As a result, as many as 250,000 workers contracted symptomatic COVID-19 because of their work during the pandemic.

On April 27, 2021, we published a report that includes important data about the rate of COVID-19 infection among essential workers.  The report observes that although workers’ compensation benefits should be the primary remedy for work-related illness, fewer than 10% of the affected workers – about 21,000 out of 250,000 – have filed a claim for benefits.  Even more distressing, only about 10% of the workers who filed – less than 1% of the affected workers – have had their claims heard and benefits awarded.

Workers who do not file for workers’ compensation risk the loss of wage replacement benefits and medical treatment – potentially for life.  The failure of the system to reach the affected workers, provide them with information about the system, encourage claim filing, and ensure the delivery of benefits has significant adverse consequences for workers, employers, and the society as a whole.

As a result, our report includes a number of proposals to improve the performance of the workers’ compensation system not only for workers with COVID-19, but for injured workers in general.

You can read the full report here

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