The New Jersey Senate has endorsed a bill that would provide workers' compensation coverage for first responders who are stricken with cancer and lung disease.
Senate Bill 716, sponsored by state Sen. Linda Greenstein, chair of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, passed the Senate 29-4 last week. This week, it was assigned to the House Labor Committee.
Former Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar presumption bill in 2013, and other bills have failed to pass both chambers. The measure is named after the late Thomas Canzanella, a Hackensack firefighter who responded to the 9/11 attacks and who lobbied for several years for presumption legislation.
Coverage would be provided to firefighters with seven or more years of service who suffer an illness that may be caused by cancer, an analysis of the bill reads. Rescue squad members, police, corrections officers and emergency medical workers also would be covered.
Employers may require testing and monitoring, at the employers' expense, to determine if the illness is related to exposure to hazardous materials in the line of duty.
The bill also would establish that if any employee, not just a public safety worker, becomes ill from a vaccine needed to protect against an expected bio-terrorism attack, when the vaccine is in connection with employment, the worker's treatment shall be covered under workers’ compensation, the bill analysis reads.
“First responders put their lives on the line every day in service to others, putting their health and safety at risk,” Greenstein, D-Middlesex, told Insider NJ news site. “When they suffer harm in the line of duty they should receive the care and treatment they need."
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