COVID19 and Workers Compensation Claims

COVID19 and Workers Compensation Claims

Injured Worker | Boylan Lawyers
From 23 November 2021, South Australia’s borders will be open to fully vaccinated people from all Australian states and territories, with some exceptions (SA Gov). The expected rise in COVID-19 transmission means everyone should be aware of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to safety at work and workers compensation.
 

Workplace Responsibilities

Any person conducting a business has a responsibility to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers in their workplace. This likely includes minimising, if not wholly eliminating, the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Consequently, workplaces are expected to continue with physical distancing, mask wearing, good hygiene, regular cleaning and maintenance, and encouraging vaccination. 

Employers should keep up to date with cleaning requirements for the various workplaces (SA Health).

Workers have responsibilities to take reasonable care for their own safety too. Workers should ensure their acts or omissions don’t adversely affect the health and safety of others. Workers must also comply with reasonable instructions and co-operate any reasonable policy or procedure relating to health or safety at the workplace. 

Employers are encouraged to read the SafeWork Australia guides and understand how to best provide a safe working environment. Read the SafeWork guides here to check if your workplace is complying with the recommendations.  

What Happens if my Workplace is Deemed an Exposure Site? 

If your workplace is exposed to COVID-19, the following guidelines for assessing and managing risk have been implemented by SA Health: 

  • General Businesses and Venues: hospitality, community sport, places of worship, retail services, entertainment facilities, higher level education, beauty and other services, information and educational facilities, major recreation facilities.  
  • Critical services and infrastructure: defence, essential infrastructure work (i.e. energy services, water services, food manufacturing), emergency services, veterinary services, and agriculture.   
  • Primary and community health care settings: medical settings, paramedics, pharmacies, pathology services, non-residential disability care. 

What Financial Support Exists if I am Directed to Quarantine or Isolate?  

The South Australian Government has outlined a pandemic leave support payment and cluster isolation payment for individuals. More information can be found here 

Alternatively, sick/personal leave, annual leave, income protection (where a policy allows), or other applicable insurance may be available to you. If you are unsure of your entitlements, you should speak to a lawyer. 

Can I Claim Workers Compensation if I Catch COVID-19 at work? 

If you catch COVID-19 and believe you caught it from work, then you can make a workers compensation claim, this is even if your employer took all reasonable steps to minimise the risk. Whether you succeed will depend on your unique circumstances. You will have to prove on balance that the infection came from the workplace, rather than another source such as exposure in the community outside of work. It is highly recommended that you speak to a lawyer if you think you caught COVID-19 at work. 

Boylan Lawyers puts the rights of South Australian workers first. If you want more information about your rights as a worker, contact our team of employment and workers compensation experts on (08) 8632 2777.  

Elias Angeletti is Senior Associate at Boylan Lawyers, specialising in employment and workers compensation law. Elias was admitted in 2014 and has since been involved in workers compensation legal proceedings before the South Australian Employment Tribunal, Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Supreme Court of South Australia, and the High Court of Australia.  

Hearing Awareness Week – 1 – 7 March, 2021

Hearing Awareness Week – 1 – 7 March, 2021

Hearing loss is silent. It often arises gradually, and the sufferer will usually not be aware that they have it until significant damage has occurred. This makes it both insidious and dangerous, for if there is an external cause it may be that awareness comes too late for anything to be done to stop the damage. Indeed, as you are reading this, the damage may already have been done to you.

Hearing loss can have many causes. Some benign, perhaps even reversible, others more serious and indicative of underlying conditions. It is often permanent. Noise exposure is a common work-related cause. It can also be caused by other factors such as exposure to certain types of chemicals known to enter the body and cause damage to the hearing (a phenomenon known as “ototoxicity”).

Hearing loss is a quality-of-life condition. There is a tendency to treat it as insignificant and stoically shrug it off (or worse, have others dismiss it) but hearing loss is a pervasive and life-altering permanent disability and it must be regarded with due seriousness. Experiences with hearing loss can range from not being able to hear family members (especially children and grandchildren) when they speak, through to being unable to hear the smoke alarm if it goes off during the night. Daily hurdles impact different people differently, and can be inconvenient, frustrating, isolating, and even devastating. This is to say nothing of the effects of tinnitus (ringing or other sound that is perceived by the brain) which often arises in tandem with hearing loss itself and which can run the gamut from an occasional buzzing through to constant, blaring noise. Without proper management, these conditions can become all-consuming and those who suffer from them need understanding and, above all, support. Especially when these life-altering conditions are inflicted upon them by their work environment.

What Can Be Done If You Have A Hearing Loss?

If you have a hearing loss and were exposed to noise or chemicals known to damage hearing in the course of employment, then you should arrange a consult to speak to a lawyer about it. In South Australia, it is better to make a claim either while you are still working or within 2 years of retirement, but even if the exposure was many years ago, or you have been retired for a while, you may still be able to make a claim. It is better to ask the question than to leave the issue unaddressed.

If successful in a claim you could get both a lump sum payment as well as high-quality hearing aid devices and associated battery and maintenance costs covered on an ongoing basis.

You can contact Boylan Lawyers on 08 8632 2777 to arrange a free 30-minute consult.