News Digest 4-6-2020

Quote of the day

“It may come to a point where if employees choose not to come to work, they run the risk that there are people waiting in line to take their jobs.”

Gary Eidelman, Baltimore employment and labor attorney




Houston mayor assures workers’ comp coverage for city employees sickened by COVID-19

The city of Houston will assume that any employee who tests positive for the new coronavirus contracted it while on duty, according to the city’s mayor. The issue came to light after the city’s third-party claims administrator told a fireman who said he was exposed to COVID-19 that there was no evidence the risk of contracting the disease was inherent in his specific employment. Houston Chronicle [may require registration]


Minnesota frontline first responders push for coverage during pandemic

First responders risk exposure to the coronavirus while on the job, and some in Minnesota are frustrated state lawmakers haven’t approved a workers’ compensation measure protecting them if they get COVID-19. KSTP (St. Paul, Minn.) [with video]


FDA to allow imports of KN95 masks from China amid PPE shortage

Due to a nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment, the Food and Drug Administration reportedly will no longer block the import of KN95 masks, which have been described as the Chinese equivalent of an N95 mask that US healthcare employees use to protect themselves from airborne bacteria and viruses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has included the KN95 mask as an alternative to other certified masks that should be used on an emergency basis. The Hill


Montana justices rule in asbestos case

The Montana Supreme Court has ruled that a workers’ compensation insurer is liable for damage claims from people who worked at the W.R. Grace vermiculite plant in Libby, Montana. The plaintiffs alleged they were irreparably injured by repeated exposure to airborne asbestos while employed at the facility. Missoula Current


How building a safety culture translates to lower premiums in the waste industry

With claims far exceeding premiums the last few years, insurance carriers are no longer willing to write “cheap” insurance. Consequently, this has created a hard market. Because of this reality, waste companies must be prepared to do whatever it takes to help improve their safety culture, which will in turn, significantly lower premiums. Waste Today


Can your boss make you come to work during coronavirus outbreak?

Federal guidelines allow state and local authorities to decide which businesses are essential during crises. As the coronavirus pandemic ramps up, many employees may be asking what rights they have if, or when their higher-ups request that they return to the office. SouthCoastToday