Health care employees exposed to harmful pathogens may apply for workers’ compensation to recover. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website notes that health care workers face high risks of contracting contagious diseases.
Infectious agents may spread through exhaled droplets. Some employees may contract illnesses through airborne transmission. While treating patients, droplets infused with particles may adhere to a health care worker’s respiratory passages. An employee may feel well at first and continue working, but symptoms of a serious illness may show later.
Facing disease risks in health care environments
Airborne diseases may transmit between patients and health care workers. The California Department of Industrial Relations website notes that several diseases spread through aerosol or droplet transmission. Common illnesses include tuberculosis, meningitis and the coronaviruses.
Illnesses may also spread through contact with infected blood. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that bloodborne illnesses such as AIDS may pass from patients to health care employees. Injuries from sharp objects may result in serious blood-related transmissions.
Qualifying for workers’ comp after a workplace exposure
To qualify for workers’ comp benefits, employees must have contracted an illness while performing their regular job tasks. Under Title 8 of the California Code of Regulations, an event or exposure in the workplace that causes an illness may qualify an employee to receive benefits.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that employees in high-risk environments visit a doctor when experiencing symptoms of contagious illnesses. Signs of a respiratory infection, for example, include fever, coughing and chest pain. Without timely medical treatment, a condition could develop that affects an individual’s heart, kidneys or liver.
Employees exposed to contagious illnesses may need time off to recover. California law requires employers to carry workers’ comp insurance. Health care workers may obtain relief through medical treatment. They may also receive financial help for recovery time.