Ohio bill to give COs workers' comp if exposed to bodily fluids from inmates

House Bill 81 provides workers' comp coverage of post-exposure medical diagnosis services for a CO's exposure to an inmate's blood or bodily fluids

By Sarah Calams

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new bill aimed at protecting corrections officers was signed into law Tuesday afternoon.

Dayton247now.com reported that Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 81 into law, which allows corrections officers and other staff members to apply for workers' compensation if they are exposed to an inmate's blood or bodily fluids while working.

"Corrections officers are often spat on or, in extreme cases, attacked by the inmates they supervise. With the current opioid epidemic our state is facing, it is common for incarcerated perpetrators to ‘dry out’ and begin vomiting and splitting uncontrollably on corrections personnel attempting to provide them with care," State Rep. Rick Perales said. "It is wrong for us to force these public servants to pay for the same medical care that peacemakers, firefighters and EMS workers receive for free."

Perales said Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer brought the issue to his attention.

"We could have a deputy sheriff and a corrections officer standing side-by-side at the jail," Sheriff Fischer said. "If both of them got spit on and they both went to the hospital together checked, which is common practice, the deputy sheriff would be covered by workers' comp and the corrections officer would not be ... which created issues with CO's having to reach into their pockets for treatment."

Fischer said he's glad the disparity will no longer exist.

"It's just the state finally coming around and making things right. In this case, the Governor agrees and we're appreciative of that," he said.

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