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New NYCOSH Report Estimates 250,000 New York State Workers Got COVID-19 On The Job & ‘Only 21,000 Applied For’ Workers’ Compensation

Published Thursday, April 29, 2021
by NYSNA News
New NYCOSH Report Estimates 250,000 New York State Workers Got COVID-19 On The Job & ‘Only 21,000 Applied For’ Workers’ Compensation

(NEW YORK CITY) – In a new report released this week, the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH) estimates 250,000 New York State Workers got COVID-19 while on the job, but only 21,000 applied for Workers’ Compensation.  The report also notes that of the 21,000 who applied, only 1,000 have received a hearing.

The report, which was released to coincide with Workers’ Memorial week in honor of Workers who have died on the job, was done so with a number of Labor Union Representatives in attendance, as well as the report’s author, private attorney Robert E. Grey.

The advocates all called for changes to the Workers’ Compensation System, as well as a number of other policy changes, including: A Presumption Bill in favor of Essential Workers with COVID-19 (S. 1241); A New York State investment on outreach on Workers’ compensation and COVID-19; New York State Workers’ Compensation Board hearings in every COVID-19 case; Expanded language access (S 1721); and protection against retaliation.

“These policy changes are essential to ensuring Workers can access workers’ compensation and that more outreach is done to ensure that the (250,000) who got symptomatic COVID-19 know about how to apply to Workers’ Compensation, including Undocumented and Immigrant Workers.  Further, every Worker who has applied for Workers’ compensation in New York State deserves a hearing,” NYCOSH Executive Director Charlene Obernauer said.

Report Author Grey, a Managing Partner at Grey & Grey LLP, said: “The data shows that there is an enormous gap between the number of people who got sick at work and the number who filed for Workers’ Compensation.  This points to the fact that there are serious flaws in the system that must be addressed for it to be even arguably a meaningful remedy for workplace injuries and illnesses.  We simply cannot have tens of thousands of Workers get sick on the job and yet lack medical benefits and protection against lost wages.  Much more must be done to make sure Workers are aware that the system exists and what benefits it provides.  It is also critically important that the state agency take down the language, education and technical obstacles that prevent Workers from obtaining benefits, and that it act much more pro-actively to do what it was designed to do: deliver compensation to Working People who get hurt or sick because of their job.”

New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, a Registered Nurse (RN), said: "New York's Workers Compensation System is stacked against Workers and must be fixed.  We heard from so many of our Members who were exposed and fell ill from COVID at work about the barriers that employers, private insurers and other gatekeepers put up when they tried to apply for Workers Comp.  Nurses and Front Line Health Care Workers put themselves at great risk to save lives during the pandemic and we deserve a fair system that fairly compensates us for our sacrifice."

The report can be downloaded at:

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