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Bills would expand compensable medical conditions, employee definition

Posted On: Feb. 14, 2019 2:03 PM CST

workers comp Washington

Legislation pending in Washington state may extend the presumption of certain medical conditions for first responders and modify the definition of an employee for workers compensation purposes.

S.B. 5849, scheduled Thursday for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce, would modify the current legislation to include public employee fire investigators to the list of first responders who are covered by workers comp, and extends coverage for law enforcement officers for heart problems they experience within 72 hours of smoke, fume or toxic substance exposure, or within 24 hours of strenuous physical exertion in the line of duty.

In addition, the proposed bill changes the presumption of occupational disease by adding several cancers to the list, including mesothelioma, stomach cancer, nonmelanoma skin cancer, breast cancer in women and cervical cancer.

The second bill, H.B. 1515, proposes to modify the definition of employer for industrial insurance purposes to include a person, group or corporate entity who contracts with one or more workers, or contract or agree to remunerate the services performed by an independent contractor. The bill also says the presumption of an employer-employee relationship “also applies at the board of industrial insurance appeals and may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence.”

H.B. 1515 is scheduled to be heard Feb. 21 in the House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards.