Studies have shown that COVID-19 can infect multiple organs including the lungs, kidney, heart and the brain and, as such, secondary effects are legitimate and real risks of contracting the disease.
Due to research being ongoing and the limited duration of existing cases, it is still unknown whether long COVID symptoms will be permanent, or whether patients will eventually go on to fully recover.
However, at this stage, employers and insurers should not rule out the possibility of long-term compensation exposure including Schedule 2 lump sum entitlements for permanent impairment where such symptoms persist long term.
Assuming that a ‘personal injury by accident’ can be established on the medical evidence, such as through damage to a particular bodily organ as a consequence of the disease, it is possible that the impairment will be assessed by an Approved Medical Specialist as being likely to continue for the foreseeable future for Schedule 2 purposes.
The new Work, Health and Safety Act WA (2020) (WHS) changed the definition of a worker to now include volunteers. LGIS members have been seeking clarity on how they can meet their obligations, and what types of protections are included with LGIS membership.
Symptoms of long COVID will be treated like any other secondary condition of an injury. If the COVID disease itself is found to be compensable, so too will the symptomatic effects of the disease.
Secondary psychiatric conditions are anticipated to be quite common, based on the experience of other jurisdictions. This is particularly the case among workers in high-risk industries where they may contract and recover from COVID-19 but develop anxiety around returning to work in an environment where a new infection could occur from re-exposure or exposure to different variants of the virus.
It is anticipated that difficult questions of causation may arise in cases of workers with co-morbidities. For instance, if an employee claims to remain unfit to work due to a symptom of fatigue after the acute phase of infection, expert medical opinion may be needed to address the cause of such and whether it is in fact due to contraction of the COVID-19 virus or a symptom of some other health condition.
A demanding role. What does it take to be a bushfire volunteer? The LGIS injury prevention team have done the most exhaustive assessment yet of the demands of a volunteer bushfire fighter role.
LGIS members across the state, particularly in the south and Wheatbelt, faced fires which destroyed property and razed the land. Changing environmental conditions will continue to pose significant challenges.