The IMSS determines that Covid-19 will be acknowledged as an occupational disease

The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) presented the criteria under which Covid-19 will be classified as an occupational disease, particularly for workers who are exposed in the front line (health sector), but also for all those who continue working, their work being in priority sectors of economic activities.

The foregoing means that, once Covid-19 is declared to be an occupational disease, a disability payment of 100% of the base salary for computing social security dues and benefits will be covered, from day one. It is important to note that in case of regular disease (non-occupational), only 60% of the salary is paid, and this starts on the fourth day, explained labor lawyer Ricardo Martínez Rojas, of the D&M Firm.

The IMSS provided the details of the process to be followed in occupational medicine to define infection by coronavirus as an occupational disease in bulletin No. 09 90 01300000/2020.

In this sense, the bulletin explains that activities defined by the Department of Health authorities are taken into account, such as the first, second and third level units of care and, in general, the members of the public and private health sectors, among which we find: doctors, nurses, auxiliary diagnostic services (laboratories and desk studies), medical, social work, respiratory therapy and dietology assistants, intendancy services, pathology service auxiliaries and any other position that has contact with patients in outpatient, emergency, continuous admission and intensive care services”.

Likewise, those positions in which it can be proved that the worker was exposed to infection by coronavirus in the exercise of his work or as a consequence of it, that is, those who “have a greater risk of contagion than that of the general population, particularly if they perform an essential work activity”, such as journalists, supermarket, pharmacy and cleaning personnel as well as the personnel working on other activities considered to be essential.

This measure, commented Martínez Rojas, “will mean an increase in the degree of risk on which employers’ contributions for each worker are based, and this could mean an increase of 1 percent”.

“If a worker qualifies Covid-19 as an occupational disease, a frequency and severity formula exists; the employer must use the formula every year to assess the occupational risk it had and the consequences of this. The first thing to take into consideration is frequency, how many cases, and the severity and cause of the occupational risk come in second place. In the event of a worker’s death, the Social Security payment will increase by 1% in the occupational risk branch. In a large company, with 20,000 employees, this 1% means a large amount of money”, added Martínez Rojas.

Levels of risk

In the establishment of coronavirus as an occupational disease, the IMSS determined that there will be three levels and activities will be classified in this manner “by exposure during the pandemic, they could be very high, high, medium or low. The level of risk depends on repeated contact”, this according to the guidelines established for work centers by the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and the Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for Coronavirus of the United States’ Department of Labor, administration and occupational safety guidelines.

Likewise, the worker requires to: conform the criteria in the event of a confirmed case, only during phases 1 and 2 of the epidemic; additionally, it is considered to be an occupational disease if it is proven that the worker was exposed to a person with coronavirus during the course of his work or because of it; in case of doubt, the provisions of the Federal Labor Law will be followed.

A few weeks ago the IMSS also issued guidelines to digitally manage all the procedures relating to beneficiaries who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease), avoiding the need for transportation and contact with other people, in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

As of yesterday, there are 5,487 contagions by Covid-19 in Mexico, and associated deaths were recorded to be 449. Additionally, there are 11,717 possible cases and 25,138 people have tested negative.

Note published in El Economista, Empresas [Companies] Section by María del Pilar Martínez