New Ohio law recognizes firefighter cancer cases ...

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New Ohio law recognizes firefighter cancer cases ...

Postby Wilberforce » Tue Jan 10, 2017 8:40 pm

Gov. John Kasich signs law recognizing firefighter cancer cases as on-the-job illness

By Robert Higgs, cleveland.com
on January 04, 2017 at 4:15 PM, updated January 04, 2017 at 4:16 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday signed a law inspired by a Beachwood fire captain, which will make it easier for firefighters to get worker's compensation and pension benefits when they are diagnosed with cancer.

The "Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act" creates a presumption that when a firefighter has cancer, it was caused by on-the-job activity. The law will take effect in 90 days.

Palumbo, a fire captain from Beachwood and Willowick, was diagnosed last year with brain cancer. He attended Wednesday's bill signing in Columbus with friends and family, including his brother, Mark, a fire lieutenant in Mayfield. Mark was an advocate for the bill and also has worked to inform fire personnel about on-the-job dangers of cancer.

What does the bill do?

Any fire personnel with cancer are presumed to incurred the disease from the job, if they have been assigned to hazardous duty for six or more years and exposed to certain agents that are classified as high-level carcinogens.

That presumption can be rebutted if there is evidence that the exposure occurred prior to their work as fire personnel or if factors outside of the scope of their employment, such as use of cigarettes or other tobacco products, likely was a significant factor in the progression of their cancer.

Other factors include firefighters' age and if they have been removed from duty for 20 or more years.

What prompted the legislation?

More than 30 states already have similar laws. Research has shown fire personnel are much more likely than the general population to get some forms of cancer. In the course of their work they are exposed to many cancer-causing materials, such as asbestos.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health began releasing data in 2013 from a large study of cancer in fire personnel. Among the study's findings:

Fire personnel had more cancer deaths and cancer cases than expected.
This increase in cancer was primarily due to digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary cancers.
There were about twice as many malignant mesothelioma cases -- likely due to asbestos exposure -- than expected.
Some cancers, such as bladder and prostate cancers, occurred at a higher-than-expected rate among younger fighters.

Previous coverage: Firefighters face high rates for cancer but struggle to get workers' comp

Previous coverage: Firefighters face high rates for cancer but struggle to get workers' comp

Michael Palumbo, a fire captain in Beachwood and Willowick, was diagnosed with brain cancer last year. What Palumbo didn't learn until later is that firefighters, often exposed to hazardous materials in burning buildings, have higher rates of cancer than others.

What did the opposition say?

Republican legislator Tom Patton of Strongsville tried three times previously to get the measure passed -- twice as a member of the Ohio House and once in the Ohio Senate. Those bills expired at the end of General Assembly sessions without making it out of committee.

The Ohio Municipal League, a lobbying group for municipalities across the state, opposed the previous measures, as it did this bill, arguing that extending the benefits was too expensive for local governments. One estimate projected the cost of the presumption for communities could be as much as $75 million.

Patton argued it was an expense communities should pickup since they employ the firefighters who are sent into danger. Lawmakers agreed, passing the bill at the close of the General Assembly in December.

Rep. Michael Henne, a Republican from Clayton, helped Patton push the bill through the legislature on this fourth try.

source
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ss ... _that.html
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