OPS, WORKER’S COMP AND THE COVID-19
By Kevin Lawrence, Executive Director, TMPA | March 24, 2020
We know you all have questions about what to do during this crisis, pandemic, bedlam that we all find ourselves addressing. As has been pointed out so eloquently, cops cannot shelter in place and most of you are not being provided with the necessary equipment, supplies and tools to protect yourselves.
Please know that we at TMPA are in constant communications with federal, state and local officials. We are reaching out to health officials, administration officials, doctors, lawyers, politicians, suppliers, and everyone in between trying to get answers to your questions and responses to your needs.
As of this writing (Tuesday, March 24th) I just got finished with a national teleconference that was hosted by the Grand Lodge of FOP and was attended by officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor and the White House.
During that call we learned that the feds are working with any number of companies who manufacture a lot of the items you need and are urging the companies to ramp up production. We also learned that it may be several more weeks before the production catches up to the demand. Not what you wanted to hear; we know. But facts are facts.
We have let the Governor and his staff know that, as soon as those supplies are available, we are ready, willing and able to assist in distributing them to officers across the state.
In the meantime, you continue to put yourselves at risk, and many of you want to know whether or not your workers comp will cover you if you in fact contract this disease. The short answer is that will depend on a number of factors. There are many different types of workers comp policies and we are not going to go into detail here about all of them.
But one thing they all have in common, and this is critical, is that you have to file a first report of injury.
We cannot emphasize this enough. If you know or suspect that you have been exposed to COVID-19, file that first report of injury right now. Follow your agencies directives, policies or orders about self-quarantining and testing. Understand that you will definitely not be covered by worker’s comp unless and until you actually contract the disease which we all hope and pray does not happen to you.
If you are eventually diagnosed, at that point we will have to figure out if it is covered or not. Call us, we will assist you with that battle.
Some agencies and worker’s comp carries are already working under a “presumption” that if a working law enforcement officer contracts the disease that it happened as part of the job. Others are not. We will continue to work with all of our allies to get all employers and carriers to adopt this presumption. And we will keep you posted about our progress.
But in the meantime, remember this one thing, file the first report of injury if you are exposed. No exceptions.
As always, be safe and know that we are just a phone call away.