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Published on Friday, February 2, 2018

First responder occupational disease bills pass out of committee

HB 2633 and its companion SB 6213 expand presumptive occupational 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.
  • Five infectious diseases for law enforcement and fire investigators including HIV, hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, mycobacterium tuberculosis, and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA has been added for firefighters who were already covered for the other infectious diseases.
  • Nine additional cancers for firefighters and investigators including mesothelioma, adenocarcinoma, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, buccal cancer, pharynx cancer, nonmelanoma skin cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer.

HB 2633 passed out of its policy committee and is scheduled for a hearing in the House Appropriations Committee on Saturday, February 3. The bill will die if it does not pass out of that committee by Tuesday, February 6. SB 6213 is in Rules Committee.

SB 6214 creates a rebuttable presumption for classifying post-traumatic stress disorder as an occupational disease for officers and firefighters who have served at least 10 years. A substitute version passed out of its policy committee and is in Rules Committee.

Related, HB 1655, removes the exclusion for mental conditions or disabilities caused by stress as applied to members of the Law Enforcement Officers' and Fire Fighters' Retirement System (LEOFF). A substitute version of this bill already passed out of the House and has been referred to the Senate Labor & Commerce Committee.

AWC opposes these costly expansions of occupational disease presumption.

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