HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TWENTY-SEVENTH LEGISLATURE, 2014
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
relating to firefighters.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the risk of being diagnosed with cancer is higher among firefighters than the general population. In a three-year study completed in 2005 by the University of Cincinnati, researchers concluded that firefighters face a higher risk of cancer than the general population. Statistics from this study show that when compared to the general population, the risk for firefighters is:
(1) One hundred two per cent higher for testicular cancer;
(2) Fifty-three per cent higher for multiple myeloma;
(3) Fifty-one per cent higher for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma;
(4) Thirty-nine per cent higher for skin cancer;
(5) Thirty-two per cent higher for brain and malignant melanoma;
(6) Twenty-nine per cent higher for rectal cancer;
(7) Twenty-eight per cent higher for prostate cancer;
(8) Twenty-four per cent higher for buccal cavity and pharanx cancer;
(9) Twenty-two per cent higher for stomach cancer;
(10) Twenty-one per cent higher for colon cancer; and
(11) Fourteen per cent higher for leukemia.
Firefighters also face a greater risk of contracting infectious diseases and illnesses associated with exposure to patient care and biochemical substances due to bioterrorism.
The purpose of this Act is to provide firefighters with comprehensive medical coverage and service connected disability retirement benefits through a presumptive law for cancer, blood-borne infectious diseases, and exposure to a biochemical substance
SECTION 2. Chapter 368, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:
"§368- Injuries covered; firefighters. (a) In addition to the injuries covered pursuant to section 386-3, if a firefighter develops cancer or leukemia, suffers from blood-borne infectious disease, or develops methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus skin infection during a period that the firefighter is in the course of employment, the cancer, leukemia, blood-borne infectious disease, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus skin infection shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment.
(b) The compensation that is awarded for cancer shall include full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits.
(c) This presumption under subsection (a) is disputable and may be controverted by evidence that the primary site of the cancer has been established and that the carcinogen to which the member has demonstrated exposure is not reasonably linked to the disabling cancer. Unless so controverted, the appeals board is bound to find in accordance with the presumption. This presumption shall be extended to a member following termination of service for a period of three calendar months for each full year of the requisite service, but not to exceed sixty months in any circumstance, commencing with the last date actually worked in the specified capacity.
(d) No compensation shall be allowed for an injury incurred by an employee by the employee's wilful intention to injure oneself or another by actively engaging in any unprovoked non-work related physical altercation other than in self-defense, or by the employee's intoxication."
SECTION 3. Section 88-79, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:
"§88-79 Service-connected disability retirement. (a) Upon application of a member, or the person appointed by the family court as guardian of an incapacitated member, any member who has been permanently incapacitated for duty as the natural and proximate result of an accident occurring while in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place, or as the cumulative result of some occupational hazard, through no wilful negligence on the member's part, may be retired by the board for service-connected disability; provided that:
(1) In the case of an accident occurring after July 1, 1963, the employer shall file with the system a copy of the employer's report of the accident submitted to the director of labor and industrial relations;
(2) An application for retirement is filed with the system within two years of the date of the accident, or the date upon which workers' compensation benefits cease, whichever is later;
(3) Certification is made by the head of the agency in which the member is employed, stating the time, place, and conditions of the service performed by the member resulting in the member's disability and that the disability was not the result of wilful negligence on the part of the member; and
(4) The medical board certifies that the member is incapacitated for the further performance of duty at the time of application and that the member's incapacity is likely to be permanent.
(b) In the case of firefighters, police officers, and sewer workers, the effect of the inhalation of smoke, toxic gases, chemical fumes, and other toxic vapors on the heart, lungs, and respiratory system shall be construed as an injury received or disease contracted while in the performance of their duty and as the result of some occupational hazard for the purpose of determining occupational disability retirement under this section.
Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, any condition of impairment of health caused by any disease of the heart, lungs, or respiratory system, resulting in permanent incapacity to a firefighter, police officer, or sewer worker, shall be presumed to have been suffered in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place through no wilful negligence on the firefighter's, police officer's, or sewer worker's part, and as a result of the inherent occupational hazard of exposure to and inhalation of smoke, toxic gases, chemical fumes, and other toxic vapors, unless the contrary be shown by competent evidence; provided that such firefighter, police officer, or sewer worker shall have passed a physical examination on entry into such service or subsequent to such entry, which examination failed to reveal any evidence of such condition.
(c) If a firefighter has completed five years or more of service under the state system and dies or develops an illness due to cancer, blood-borne infectious disease, or exposure to a biochemical substance, the cancer, blood-borne infectious disease, or exposure to a biochemical substance that has developed or manifested itself in those cases shall be presumed to have been suffered in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place through no wilful negligence on the firefighter's part.
(d) Notwithstanding the existence of nonindustrial predisposing or contributing factors, any firefighter member permanently incapacitated for the performance of duty as a result of cancer shall receive a service-connected disability retirement if the member demonstrates that the member was exposed to a known carcinogen as a result of performance of job duties.
(e) The presumptions in subsections (c) and (d) are disputable and may be controverted by evidence that the carcinogen to which the firefighter has demonstrated exposure is not reasonably linked to the disabling cancer; provided that the primary site of the cancer has been established. The presumptions in subsections (c) and (d) shall be extended to a firefighter following termination of service for a period of three calendar months for each full year of the requisite service. This extension shall not exceed sixty months in any circumstance, commencing with the last date actually worked in the specified capacity.
(c)] (f) The board may waive
strict compliance with the time limits within which a report of the accident
and an application for service-connected disability retirement must be filed
with the board if it is satisfied that the failure to file within the time
limited by law was due to ignorance of fact or law, inability, or to the fraud,
misrepresentation, or deceit of any person, or because the applicant was
undergoing treatment for the disability or was receiving vocational
rehabilitation services occasioned by the disability.
(d)] (g) The board may
determine whether or not the disability is the result of an accident occurring
while in the actual performance of duty at some definite time and place and
that the disability was not the result of wilful negligence on the part of the
member. The board may accept as conclusive:
(1) The certification made by the head of the agency in which the member is employed; or
(2) A finding to this effect by the medical board.
(e)] (h) Upon approval by the
board, the member shall be eligible to receive a service-connected disability
retirement benefit after the member has terminated service. Retirement shall
become effective on the first day of a month, except for the month of December
when retirement on the first or last day of the month shall be allowed.
(i) For purposes of this section:
"Biochemical substance" means any biological or chemical agent that may be used as a weapon of mass destruction, including any chemical warfare agent, weaponized biological agent, or nuclear or radiological agent.
"Blood-borne infectious disease" means a disease caused by exposure to pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood that can cause disease in humans, including those pathogenic microorganisms determined as blood-borne pathogens by the department of health.
"Known carcinogen" means those carcinogenic agents recognized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or the director of labor and industrial relations."
SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.
SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2014.
Firefighters; Service Connected Disability; Presumption
Provides firefighters with comprehensive medical coverage through workers compensation law and service connected disability retirement benefits through a presumptive law for cancer, blood-borne infectious diseases, and exposure to a biochemical substance. Effective July 1, 2014.
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.