Ohio workers’ comp benefits for prison employees may change this year, and for the better. State Representative Rick Perales is sponsoring a bill that would widen workers’ compensation coverage for corrections officers. The proposed reform would extend coverage to include medical expenses for any bodily fluid contamination that happens on the job. Under the current law, those who work in prisons are only covered for contamination if it occurred due to a fight with a prisoner.
At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, we believe that corrections officers should receive similar benefits to other state employees who risk their health for the sake of public safety. If you or a family member is a prison employee who has been injured on the job, our certified Ohio workers’ compensation specialists Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos will help for you get the compensation you deserve.
Prison Employees Not Covered for All Contamination by Bodily Fluids
Corrections officers do not enjoy the same benefits as those afforded to other state workers who put their lives on the line. Unlike emergency responders, law enforcement, and firefighters, prison employees do not always receive workers’ compensation when they are exposed to harmful bodily fluids. If a correctional facility employee is exposed to dangerous fluids, and the exposure did not result from an altercation, it’s on them to pay for treatment.
This may sound like a far-fetched scenario, but in August 2018, over two dozen employees of an Ohio correctional facility sought treatment after they came into contact with an inmate who overdosed on fentanyl. This powerful opioid, which can be more than 50 times stronger than heroin, can enter a person’s body through their lungs, skin, or even their eyes. The affected detention workers had to pay for their own treatment, because the contamination did not result from an altercation with the prisoner.
State Legislators Pushing for Workers’ Comp Reform for Corrections Officers
Fortunately, on February 19, 2019, a bill was introduced to the Ohio Legislature that would afford correctional facility employees the same protections given to the police, the fire department, and first responders. Primarily sponsored by Perales, House Bill (HB) 81 proposes to amend section 4123.026 of the Ohio Revised Code to extend workers’ compensation coverage to medical diagnostic services necessary after a detention facility employee’s exposure to another person’s bodily fluids.
So far, the bill has seven sponsors, but it is too early to tell when and if it will become law. Due to the outcry over the state’s failure to cover the medical costs of the corrections officers affected by the recent fentanyl contamination, we can hope for widespread support of extending coverage to these scenarios.
Our Ohio Workers’ Compensation Specialists Can Help
While our state’s legislators work to pass important workers’ compensation reform, there is no telling how many more Ohio detention facility workers will get injured on the job. Many of them may not be able to access workers’ compensation benefits until the law changes. For the foreseeable future, corrections facility employees will need to fight harder than ever for the compensation they deserve.
At Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA, we are ready to lead the fight on your behalf. Our certified Ohio workers’ compensation lawyers Adrienne Hines and Victor Kademenos, have a proven track record of success. To learn about how we can help after a work-related injury, call (419) 625-7770, or reach out via the online form to schedule a free, initial evaluation of your case.