What Resources are Available for Sanitation Workers During COVID-19?
May 4, 2020
During the current COVID-19 outbreak, the work that sanitation workers do has become more vital and dangerous. Now, they may be responsible for disinfecting and deep cleaning everything to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Often underappreciated and underpaid, these workers are essential to ongoing operations of all businesses, even as they risk their own health and safety. Employers can take steps to protect these workers; including advising them of paid sick leave, Workers’ Compensation, and other benefits that now may be available.
Risks Faced by Sanitation Workers During COVID-19
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, many sanitation workers are now being required to use more powerful disinfectants than before. Some of these harsh chemicals cause burns, eye irritations, and skin rashes. Some workers have reported a lack of personal protective equipment or other measures that could help reduce the risk of getting sick. These workers do not have the option of working from home, which exposes them to contracting COVID-19.
There are several steps employers can take to help ensure the safety and health of sanitation workers during the current pandemic, including the following:
- Provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 respirator masks, if needed
- Provide break rooms with functioning sinks
- Allow workers time for hand washing
- Encourage workers to stay home if they are feeling ill
Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Workers’ Compensation has long been available in Pennsylvania and New Jersey to employees. Historically, some employers classify sanitation workers as temporary workers or independent contractors, effectively barring them from receiving benefits.
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has provided additional funding to states to extend unemployment and other benefits to workers impacted by the virus.
The New Jersey Department of Labor states that if a person has contracted COVID-19 at work, they may be eligible for Workers’ Compensation. Furthermore, paid sick leave under the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Act is available to workers who have symptoms of COVID-19. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry stated that workers might be eligible for Workers’ Compensation if they believe they were exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. Workers can file in one of two ways:
- Filing a disease-as-injury claim: This requires providing medical evidence of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace
- Filing an occupational disease claim: This requires proof that COVID-19 is occurring more in your occupation/industry than in the general population
Obtaining the guidance of an experienced work injury lawyer can help those who have attempted to file a claim on their own but were denied.
Philadelphia Work Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Help Ill Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic
If you or someone you know contracted COVID-19 at work, contact the experienced Philadelphia work injury lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. For a free consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or fill out our online form. From our offices in Reading, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.