The rollout of vaccine mandates has the potential to have a major impact on businesses engaged in the mining sector. But it’s raising questions about how it might also impact on workers’ compensation claims, which could be brought against employers across the industry.
Proactive Insurance Management director Lee O’Connor discusses the possible impacts this would have on claims. Specifically, those arising from any adverse side effects, together with the impacts of the spread of Covid as borders re-open and new strains possibly spread.
With employers now requiring all employees be vaccinated to be able to undertake work for them, either by Government mandate or on their own undertaking, what happens if a worker attends to have the vaccine and suffers adverse side effects?
The adverse reaction of a COVID-19 vaccination would likely be considered a compensable injury, if the employer wants the worker to have or mandates the need for a vaccination.
What’s the likely liability outcome if a workers compensation claim was to be lodged?
If the worker can establish that they’ve suffered an adverse reaction to a vaccination, which is sufficient to constitute an injury, then they are very likely to be considered in the course of employment if they have been directed by their employer to have the vaccination.
So, this would then be deemed in the course of their employment?
Well, each scenario would still need to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine the link between employment and that it substantially contributed to the injury and the nature of the reaction.
In the event of transmission from one staff member to another, how will this be treated?
Where a worker submits a claim for COVID-19, both the employer and worker would need to provide sufficient evidence that employment was a contributing factor to the contraction of the disease.
This would also depend on the nature of the staff members work (i.e., front line workers), level of community transmission, exposure periods, hotspot locations, strain of the virus contracted compared to that of the co-worker, additional cases in the workplace.
What if an employee has a current workers compensation claim, not COVID-19 related, and is required to be vaccinated to be able to undertake work for the employer? The worker has the vaccination and suffers side effects from it. Is this a new claim and how will it affect the current claim?
On the balance of probabilities, if the side effects lead to an injury, then it would most likely be a new claim, as such injury has resulted from a different event and arguably not related to the initial injury they suffered.
What is the potential impact on premiums in relation to COVID-19 vaccination claims?
Claim costs relating to COVID-19 vaccinations will be included with all other claim costs as part of the underwriting premium rating assessment process.p