The Workers’ Compensation Act of Colorado has clearly included public workers as one of those entitled for compensation benefits. This is the same with other States, and includes policemen, fire fighters, and other first-responders. These workers are covered for any ailments or disease that may develop due to the performance of their work.
Should Workers’ Compensation for Public Workers be expanded?
In Connecticut, some legislators have pushed for the passing of a bill that would provide coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder. This would be for first responders who witnessed the death of another person or people in violent ways.
The bill was put into consideration due to the undeniable fact that these first responders also suffer from trauma after responding to stressful situations. It is a recognition that while these workers were trained specifically to react in stressful circumstances, one cannot ignore the reality that they are still be affected by the situation.
There have also been talks of including cancer in the expansion for the firefighters due to the high health risk that their work supposedly entails. Several studies have tried to prove that firefighters have high risk of developing lung cancer due to their exposure to smoke and fumes.
While public employers understand the dangers that these first responders put themselves in whenever they go out, they are also concerned about the costs of expanding the compensation benefits. This would mean that they have to charge members higher than what they charge now in order to comply with said expansion.
Moreover, there is the question of how to determine whether diseases covered in the expansion are occupational diseases or contracted outside of work.
For instance, there has been a doubt as to including cancer in this expansion. Cancer is a disease which develops over time and usually takes time before symptoms can be seen or felt by the one afflicted. For this reason, it is hard to pinpoint whether the proximate cause for such sickness is the worker’s occupation.
While some studies say that firefighters have higher chances of developing cancer-related conditions, some studies have strongly disproved this fact. These conflicting studies result in major doubts to including cancer in the expansion.
Another issue is the inclusion of post traumatic disorder for first responders. There have been mixed reactions. Some say it would be absurd to afford these workers benefits for something that they were trained to handle.
The expansion of the workers’ compensation benefit for first responders is an ongoing process. If you need help from an experienced Colorado workers’ compensation attorney, please feel free to call us at (866) 356-9898 for your FREE CONSULTATION.