Pennsylvania fire fighters are one step closer to winning the fight against an occupational hazard: cancer. On Aug. 19 the Cancer Presumption Bill, aimed at protecting firefighters with cancer, was approved in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Fire fighters are frequently exposed to hazards such as carbon monoxide, diesel exhaust, asbestos, and other toxins that can lead to various forms of cancer. In an article from the WHYY.com website, Art Martynuska, president of the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association, said, “By the nature of our business we have more of a chance of coming down with one of these cancers that can be directly related to what we do on a daily basis. It’s an occupational hazard that we have to deal with.” However, in Pennsylvania it is not automatically assumed that a fire fighters’ cancer is job-related. In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, fire fighters who are diagnosed with cancer must prove that the disease came about as a result of the hazards of their job.
The Cancer Presumption Bill would aid Pennsylvania fire fighters by reversing this process – it would be assumed that the fire fighter developed cancer as a result of their job unless their employer or the municipality could prove that it was circumstances outside of the job that contributed to the disease. Martynuska said, “If you are involved in the fire service and you come down with one of several types of cancer, the presumption is that you got that as a result of exposure to things on the job.” The bill will assist fire fighters by assuming their cancer is job-related, and making them eligible for worker’s compensation.
The bill is now before the PA state senate. If passed, Pennsylvania will join 31 other states with laws that assume a fire fighter’s cancer is a result of the hazards of the job and therefore covered by workers’ compensation
Michael J. O’Connor & Associates represents injured workers obtaining workers compensation benefits. We also represent injured workers who are not currently in litigation and negotiate lump sum settlements. Call our toll free number at 1 (800) 518-4LAW for a free initial consultation and review of your case.