OLR Bill Analysis
AN ACT CONCERNING WORKERS' COMPENSATION COVERAGE FOR CURRENT AND FORMER UNIFORMED MEMBERS OF PAID OR VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENTS.
This bill creates a rebuttable presumption that the firefighting performed by volunteer, municipal, and state firefighters causes numerous types of cancer. Thus it makes those with the disease eligible for workers' compensation benefits unless a preponderance of the evidence shows that something else caused the disease.
As with any workers' compensation claim, to qualify for payment, the disease must result in the employee's or volunteer's death or temporary or permanent total or partial disability.
The bill also permits retired firefighters to apply for the benefits within five years of their retirement.
It also makes technical and conforming changes.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2016
ELIGIBLE TYPES OF CANCER
The bill requires the following types of cancer to be presumed to have been suffered in the line of duty as a result of the inhalation, absorption, or ingestion of noxious fumes or poisonous gases, unless the contrary is shown by a preponderance of the evidence:
1. Kahler's Disease;
2. non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; and
3. conditions of cancer affecting the brain, skin, skeletal system, digestive system, endocrine system, respiratory system, lymphatic system, reproductive system, urinary system or hematological system.
Preponderance of evidence means the evidence on one side of the question outweighs the evidence on the other side. It does not mean beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a higher standard.
QUALIFYING FOR THE PRESUMPTION
Firefighters qualify for the presumption if the following conditions are met:
1. they passed a physical examination upon entry into such service, or subsequent to entry, that failed to reveal any evidence of such disease;
2. they worked or volunteered for at least five years at a fire department at the time such disease is discovered, or should have been discovered; and
3. the disease is one that is known to result from exposure to heat, radiation, or a known carcinogen as determined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer or the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The bill specifies that any current or retired firefighter who qualifies for benefits under the bill may be required to submit to annual physical examinations as a condition of receiving the benefits.
sHB 5075 (File 3), favorably reported by the Labor Committee, requires the state to create a firefighters' cancer disability insurance benefit program that covers some of the same cancers.
Labor and Public Employees Committee