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Published on Friday, February 3, 2017

Proposals expand occupational diseases for police and fire

On Thursday, February 9, House and Senate committees will hear two bills seeking to expand presumptive occupational disease for police and fire personnel.

The House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee will hear HB 1655, which expands occupational disease coverage to posttraumatic stress disorder.

The Senate Commerce, Labor & Sports Committee will hear SB 5477, which expands presumptive disease coverage to fire investigators and adds the following new diseases:

  • Strokes for fire personnel, if experienced within seventy-two hours of exposure to smoke, fumes, or toxic substances, or experienced within twenty-four hours of strenuous physical exertion in the line of duty.
  • Heart problems and strokes for law enforcement officers, experienced within seventy-two hours of exposure to smoke, fumes, or toxic substances, or experienced within twenty-four hours of strenuous physical exertion in the line of duty. Heart problems are already covered for fire personnel.
  • HIV, hepatitis, and other infectious diseases for law enforcement and Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) for fire and police.
  • Eight additional cancers for fire fighters and investigators (mesothelioma, adenocarcinoma, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, buccal cancer, pharynx cancer, nonmelanoma skin cancer, and breast cancer).

AWC opposes expansion of occupational disease due to the potential for increased costs and the lack of scientific evidence tying these diseases to the occupation.

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