Alarming rates of COVID-19 infection in the workplace highlight need for guaranteed compensation


The Victorian Greens have said the alarming number of health workers contracting COVID-19 in the workplace make clear the need for guaranteed workers compensation.

Earlier today, chief medical officer Andrew Wilson revealed that between 70 to 80 per cent of Victorian health workers who were diagnosed with COVID-19 had caught the virus at work.

Victorian Greens spokesperson for health, Dr Tim Read, said that if these workers run out of sick leave, they need to know they will be looked after and won’t have to prove that they were infected at work.

In April the Greens introduced a bill that would amend the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 to provide a presumption for workers compensation for workers with an elevated risk of being exposed to the virus.

Dr Read said it is critical that the state government support health workers who turn up to work every day, knowing they may be the next case.

He added that to prevent the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the workplace, Victoria should look to examples set overseas, where hospitals with low or zero infection rates have switched to non-disposable respirators made of elastomer for staff in close contact with infected patients.

These filter aerosols far better than disposable paper N95 masks, they fit better and being reusable they don’t contribute to the mountain of medical waste.

Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens spokesperson for health, Tim Read MP:

“It’s no surprise that most health workers are being infected at work, but what is surprising is that our government won’t assure them they will be given access to workers compensation if they contract COVID-19.

“We should be supporting all health workers who are turning up to work every day knowing they may be the next case.

“And to reduce the rate of infection in the workplace we should be looking to examples set overseas where hospital transmissions are slim to none. Investing in different kinds of masks – such as non-disposable respirators – would solve supply chain problems as well as providing better protection for staff.”