Many OPSEU workers continue to provide essential services in settings which place them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. The union wants to ensure that OPSEU members exercise their workplace rights and benefits if the exposure is work-related.
In the event that you become concerned about your exposure, have confirmed that you are COVID positive, and or become ill, the information below will assist you through the documentation process and steps required to access WSIB or third-party providers.
We hope that you will find the information below helpful. If you have further questions, please contact your Local president/ highest ranking and if they need assistance they can reach your OPSEU Staff Representative.
Do employers have an obligation to notify the union if a member has contracted COVID-19?
YES. All employers must comply with Section 52 (2) of the Ontario Health and Safety Act (OHSA) to provide a notice of occupational illness: If an employer is advised by or on behalf of a worker that the worker has an occupational illness or that a claim in respect of an occupational illness has been filed with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board by or on behalf of the worker, the employer shall give notice in writing, within four days of being so advised, to a Director, to the committee or a health and safety representative and to the trade union, if any, containing such information and particulars as are prescribed.
Workplaces that fall under the Regulation for Industrial Establishments or the Regulation for Healthcare and Residential Facilities must provide additional information including name and address of the worker, nature of the illness and what circumstances gave rise to the illness, a description of the cause or suspected cause, the period that the worker was affected, and the steps taken to prevent recurrence.
Yes. Employers have not always been forthcoming and the union wants to be pro-active to ensure that all members have access to support.
OPSEU recommends that all Locals/units communicate regularly with members to:
- Ensure that members know who to reach out to if they suspect they have been exposed
- If they have gotten sick and need to be off work
- If they require assistance with completing WSIB or third-party insurance claims
- If they have tested positive
What should I do if I think that I have been exposed to COVID-19?
- Notify your union steward and notify the employer.
- If there is any chance that you were exposed to COVID-19 at work you should report your exposure to WSIB. Complete the Workplace Exposure Incident Form and fax it to the WSIB at 1-888-313-7373. This form logs your exposure to COVID-19 and WSIB assigns an exposure reference number. If you do not develop symptoms, then nothing else happens. If you do develop symptoms or later test positive for COVID-19, you will need to submit the WSIB Form 6 (include your exposure reference number). The WSIB will cross reference your Form 6 with the exposure form, assign you a claim number, and will fast-track your case.
- Use the OPSEU Helper Questionnaire to document the nature and circumstances of your exposure and keep it for your records to support any claims you may later file with WSIB or other non-WSIB insurance benefits.
What should I do if I become ill with COVID-19 from a workplace exposure?
- Complete the WSIB Form 6. Download the fillable Form 6 from the WSIB website and fax it to the WSIB at 1-888-313-7373. Be sure to cite your exposure reference number if you have one. Refer back to the information about your exposure that you previously collected. Contact your local president/ highest ranking, if you need assistance.
- Many employers are blaming COVID-19 on community spread and may not admit the workplace connection. Your employer may advise you not to file a Worker Form 6 and inform you that they will not complete the Employer Form 7. Do not be persuaded as there are a lot unknowns with COVID-19. The best way to protect your health is to file a WSIB claim.
Generally not. The employer has an obligation to investigate and to put in place measures to protect all workers. Employers must acquaint workers and supervisors with information about hazards that they may be exposed to, and provide information and instruction to be safe at work. The duty to warn should not include sharing your name or personal information unless absolutely necessary.
In specific circumstances the employer will report occupational illnesses to the JHSC and the union.
What will OPSEU and my Joint Health and Safety Committee do with my information if they receive notice that I filed a WSIB claim for occupational illness?
OPSEU will keep your information confidential and use the information only to help you or as otherwise legally required. The union may reach out to you to ensure that you have the support that you need.
The documented details of exposure will be used to ensure that measures and procedures for safety in the workplace are improved so as to prevent other members from being exposed.