The Judiciary will decide if Covid-19 is an occupational disease

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The Superior Labor Court (TST) will judge whether Covid-19 can be considered an occupational disease. The 2nd Panel of the court will analyze the appeal on a date not yet defined, with minister José Roberto Freire Pimenta as the rapporteur.

The Postal Workers’ Union for São Paulo, São Paulo Metro Area and Sorocaba Postal Zone (Sindicato dos Trabalhadores dos Correios de São Paulo, Região Metropolitana de São Paulo e Zona Postal de Sorocaba – Sindec) was the one who filed the original motion related to a case involving a postal worker who had sequelae caused by Covid-19, claiming that the disease was obtained due to his activities while he was working.

According to newspaper Folha de São Paulo, the worker asked the Post Office to issue the so-called CAT (work accident report), which would identify the work as the source of the illness, in order to obtain the benefit granted by the Brazilian Social Security Administration (INSS).

The portal has also informed that, at the time, the worker was informed by the Post Office that the CAT would not be issued, as it was not possible to identify the location where the contamination occurred, considering that there is also the possibility that he was contaminated outside of work.

In a statement, the Post Office disclosed that they have been adopting measures since the beginning of the pandemic to be able to protect their employees, monitoring everyone’s health status and providing the necessary support to their staff in the fight against Covid-19

There are opposing decisions in Labor Courts regarding the case: one of them recognizes that the disease can be considered occupational; a different decision did not find a causal connection, concluding that the disease and the activity performed are not connected.

Care in the return to the office

When planning the return to the office, companies must check with municipal ordinances say regarding mandatory health care and create their own safety measures based on such guidelines. Use masks at all times and invest in the installation of acrylic barriers in indoor environments are important and frequent measures. It is necessary to educate employees on the need to take appropriate precautions.

Contamination at work and resulting from work

In the event of contamination within the work environment, the key issue is to establish the exact moment of the occurrence. Labor Court has determined three aspects of the company’s responsibility in such situations:

  • For healthcare companies there is an objective responsibility regarding the employee contaminated with COVID-19, since associates are directly exposed.
  • The company that fails to adopt prevention measures must be held accountable.
  • The company non concerned with the safety protocols will be penalized.

Written by Marcos Ferreira, content assistant at Drummond Advisors

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