Legislators Propose Act to Update Workers’ Compensation Laws to Protect First Responders
Assemblywoman Linda Stender (District 22) and Assemblyman Joseph V. Egan (District 17) have sponsored a bill in the New Jersey legislature calling for the modernization of New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws to ensure that the needs of public safety workers are adequately protected, and that those workers are not denied “a level of support commensurate to the sacrifices they and their families have made.” Citing the consequences of the September 11, 2001, incidents in New York City, the legislators have proposed a number of measures:
- That there be a presumption that death, injury or disability are compensable under the workers’ compensation laws if they resulted from a terrorist attack, an epidemic or catastrophic emergency considered a terrorist attack or related to a terrorist attack
- That employers of such employees be required to undergo (at their expense) testing, evaluation and monitoring of health conditions of workers in such situations
- That employers be required to have programs in place to provide psychological and social counseling for workers in these types of occupations
- That public safety workers exposed to excretions, secretions, blood, bodily fluids, pathogens or biological toxins be entitled to treatment under the workers’ compensation laws
- That any injuries caused by exposure to smallpox, anthrax or any other bioterrorism be compensable under the state’s workers’ compensation program
- That any injury, illness or death caused by or related to a carcinogen, radiation or radioactive substance contracted in a terrorist event be compensable under the state’s workers’ compensation program
- That all occupational diseases caused by or related to a terrorist event be compensable under the workers’ compensation laws
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