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Several workers compensation bills read for the first time in the California legislature on Monday would expand presumptive illness and injury protections to more workers and protect employees from discrimination in disability determinations.
S.B. 567, introduced by Sen. Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, and Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would extend the injury and illness presumption currently provided to first responders in the state to include registered nurses who provide direct patient care in an acute care setting.
The legislation would create a rebuttable presumption that injuries including infectious diseases, cancer, musculoskeletal injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and respiratory diseases developed or manifested in registered nurses arose in or out of the course their employment. The bill would also extend those presumptions after the termination of employment, allotting three months of potential compensability for each full year of employment.
“Worker’s compensation presumptions exist for first responders because they are inevitably exposed to dozens of potential illnesses as a condition of their work; many of which lead to health issues such as infectious diseases, respiratory illnesses and cancer,” Sen. Caballero said in a statement. “Current professions that have these protections are heavily male-dominated fields, including firefighters and police officers. My bill … recognizes health care workers such as nurses, are first responders as well, and face many of these same health risks. They should be given the same worker’s compensation protections as their male counterparts.”
In the Assembly, A.B. 1400 also proposes to modify the state’s current presumption laws. The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Sydney Kamlager-Dove, D-Los Angeles, would change the language of the state’s current first responder presumption laws to replace “active firefighting members” with “fire service personnel” who have exposure to active fires or health hazards resulting from firefighting operations.
Also read in the Senate was S.B. 731, sponsored Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, which modifies existing comp law to include language prohibiting the determination of an individual’s percentage of permanent disability to be based on or influenced by their race, religion, national origin, age, gender, marital status, sexual orientation or genetic characteristics.
Ontario is extending the presumption for firefighters for entitlement to workers comp benefits to cervical, ovarian and penile cancers.