WorkSafeBC has accepted 430 compensation claims related to COVID-19 exposure so far this year, and disallowed 698 others, data from the provincial workplace insurance agency show.
Claim statistics show by far the largest number of coronavirus-related injury claims in B.C. have come from health care and social services workers, with 320 claims allowed and 321 disallowed as of Oct. 21. Another 154 claims from that group were pending and 86 have been suspended.
Accommodation, food and leisure services, including grocery store employees also deemed essential in the pandemic, have produced only 11 allowed claims and 17 disallowed. A single claim from an education worker has been allowed, and another 22 disallowed, with 12 more pending.
“Claims are allowed when there is sufficient evidence to establish that the worker has COVID-19 and the risk in the workplace was significantly higher than the ordinary exposure risk,” WorkSafeBC explains. “Claims are typically disallowed when there is insufficient evidence to establish that the worker has COVID-19 (based on tests or symptom cluster), and/or the worker went off work strictly as a preventive measure.”
Other categories reflect the workplace outbreaks that have been reported by B.C. public health officials since COVID-19 reporting began early in 2020. Agriculture workers have had 28 claims allowed and seven disallowed, while 18 claims have been allowed for workers in food and beverage manufacturing, including poultry processing plants that were briefly shut down due to employee exposure to the virus.
Notable for the lack of COVID-19 related claims are resource industries. WorkSafeBC reports a single claim for oil and gas or mineral resources, disallowed, and two claims for metal and non-metallic mineral manufacturing, both disallowed with three more pending. Wood and paper products manufacturing industries have had two claims disallowed.
Construction, which has carried on with infection precautions but not the shutdown seen in other provinces, has had one claim allowed and 13 disallowed.
“Not all claims registered receive an allow or disallow decision,” WorkSafeBC says. “Some claims are suspended and therefore do not proceed through the decision-making process. This happens after the claims are registered and is often a choice workers make not to proceed wit the requirements of the claims process.”