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Controversy Surrounds New Maryland Workers’ Compensation Bill to Aid Firefighters

By Alpert Schreyer on May 3, 2012

The Cumberland-Times News reports that a new state bill that focuses on firefighters’ workers’ compensation claims has been met with opposition from Frederick County commissioners who are in fear of the increased costs. Under existing Maryland law, rescue workers can receive compensation for various ailments, such as hypertension or heart disease. The new piece of legislation would add five cancers to the list of diseases linked to firefighting, allowing workers to file workers’ compensation claims for these specific diseases.

MD Firefighter Workers CompensationSupporters of the bill highlighted medical research which essentially has shown that firefighters are at an increase risk for certain types of cancers. For example, according to University of Cincinnati research, firefighters are twice as likely to develop testicular cancer and also have an increased chance of contracting non-Hodgkin lymphoma, brain cancer, and multiple myeloma. The proposed state bill would also add breast cancer to the list of diseases thought to be job-related.

Firefighters and the groups representing them praise the bill, as it fulfills an obligation to those who inhale soot, diesel engine exhaust, and harmful chemicals while protecting the community. However, county commissioners in Maryland assert that the scientific research merely establishes “tenuous connections” between firefighting and the specific cancers listed in the bill, arguing that the state may be paying out for diseases not actually linked to occupation.

State legislative analysts also believe the bill would notably increase local expenses, though actual costs have not been determined. Next, the bill will be examined by the Senate Finance Committee.

Workers’ compensation is a system established to help MD workers who have become ill or injured while on the job, but due to existing laws a worker may not receive the compensation they deserve. For assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, contact a knowledgeable Annapolis workers’ compensation attorney at the law firm of Alpert Schreyer, LLC. Call (844) 632-7274 for a free case evaluation.

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