Does workers’ compensation cover blood and bodily fluid exposure?

There are some jobs in Ohio where workers run the risk of being exposed to blood or bodily fluids, which can place them in danger of diseases and illnesses. For those who are concerned about exposure or who have already been exposed, understanding the guidelines for this type of incident and how workers’ compensation benefits can help them is imperative to receive treatment and be covered for missed time on the job.

The law covers emergency responders, firefighters and peace officers who are exposed to blood and bodily fluids. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation is required by law to pay for medical coverage after an incident in which a worker is exposed. Even if the person has not been injured or suffers from an occupational disease, they must still be covered.

Under this law, the employee is required to have come in contact with the blood or bodily fluids of another person in specific ways. If it is splattered in the eyes or mouth, the law applies. It also applies if the transfer happens via skin puncture, cut, open sore, abrasion, lesion or ulcer. This law only applies to blood and bodily fluids. If it is an airborne exposure to a disease, it is not covered.

Workers’ compensation benefits will pay for medical diagnostic services to determine if the worker has contracted an occupational disease due to the contact. The claim will be denied if there was exposure but no injury or disease. Testing and preventive treatment will be paid for. If the worker later becomes injured or ill, the case will be reconsidered to decide if workers’ compensation benefits should be provided.

Being a first responder, a firefighter or a law enforcement officer can be difficult enough without worrying about workers’ compensation benefits after being exposed to the blood or bodily fluids of another person. Fortunately, the law covers people in this situation. If there are issues after being exposed, a legal professional experienced in workers’ compensation should be called as soon as possible.

Source: bwc.ohio.gov, “Workers’ Compensation Claims Management Guidelines for Exposure to Blood and Other Body Fluids Under ORC 4123.026,” accessed on May 7, 2018