Workers’ Compensation (a.k.a., workers’ comp) deals with an individual becoming injured or obtaining an illness at a workplace and assists them with returning to work or finding another job once they can. Traditionally and per legal statutes and laws, there are certain procedures for dealing with workers’ compensation cases. These rules and regulations include a description of what is considered a compensated illness or injury, how vocational evaluations are conducted, and how workers’ compensation hearings are held. Since 2019, COVID-19 has changed how business is conducted, and workers’ compensation is no exception.
How has workers’ compensation been affected by COVID-19?
Many states, including Florida, are still deciding under what conditions COVID-19 cases can be considered under workers’ comp. As of now, Florida statutes indicate that COVID-19 can be found as compensable as an occupational disease if the infected employee can show that their occupation involves a higher-than-normal risk to exposure, which could include first responders and healthcare workers. Additionally, the long-term effects of COVID-19 are still being explored at this time, as well as their impact on an individual’s physical limitations in the workplace. This is important information that a vocational expert would need in order to determine an individual’s ability to work.
While COVID-19 is being explored as a potential condition that is considered compensable, it is not the only difficulty faced by the pandemic. Traditionally injured workers have been affected by COVID-19 in a variety of ways. There have been delays in individuals being able to obtain necessary medical treatments or surgeries. These delays affect an individual’s recovery which impact the ability to return to work and which jobs the individual could perform.
Additionally, the means of dealing with workers’ comp cases have been impacted by COVID-19 safety protocols. When applicable, client interviews or meetings have been conducted virtually over Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Also, assessments have been conducted virtually, if possible.
How has Vocational Expert Services, Inc. adapted to COVID-19?
Vocational Expert Services, Inc. is following CDC guidelines carefully as far as COVID-19 precautions are concerned, including mask and social distancing protocols. Additionally, our experts can administer some assessments remotely, if needed. This, along with using methods such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, allows intake interviews to be conducted virtually when applicable. These online solutions have allowed us to conduct business with clients, all while maintaining excellent service.