Job-related hepatitis C infections are hard to prove

November 18th, 2003 by Julie Ferguson

The likelihood of contracting hepatitis C from a single, contaminated needle stick is small, perhaps 2 percent or lower. But the number of accidental needle sticks and other skin punctures each year is high – 380,000 to 600,000, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Still, many workers have little hope of getting their treatments or doctor visits covered – much less lost wages – when hepatitis C renders them disabled.

The problem: a patchwork system of state workers compensation laws that were created to deal with broken bones, not hepatitis C.

“The worker compensation system does not effectively deal with occupational illness,” said Bill Borwegen, safety director for the Service Employees International Union. “It needs to be totally reformed.”


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