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SB-542 Workers’ compensation.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 10/02/2019 02:00 PM
SB542:v95#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 542
CHAPTER 390

An act to add and repeal Section 3212.15 of the Labor Code, relating to workers’ compensation.

[ Approved by Governor  October 01, 2019. Filed with Secretary of State  October 01, 2019. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 542, Stern. Workers’ compensation.
Under existing law, a person injured in the course of employment is generally entitled to receive workers’ compensation on account of that injury. Existing law provides that, in the case of certain state and local firefighting personnel and peace officers, the term “injury” includes various medical conditions that are developed or manifested during a period while the member is in the service of the department or unit, and establishes a disputable presumption in this regard.
This bill would provide, only until January 1, 2025, that in the case of certain state and local firefighting personnel and peace officers, the term “injury” also includes post-traumatic stress that develops or manifests itself during a period in which the injured person is in the service of the department or unit. The bill would apply to injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2020. The bill would prohibit compensation from being paid for a claim of injury unless the member has performed services for the department or unit for at least 6 months, unless the injury is caused by a sudden and extraordinary employment condition.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) Firefighting and law enforcement are recognized as two of the most stressful occupations. Only our nation’s combat soldiers endure more stress. Similar to military personnel, California’s firefighters and law enforcement personnel face unique and uniquely dangerous risks in their sworn mission to keep the public safe. They rely on each other for survival while placing their lives on the line every day to protect the communities they serve.
(b) On any given shift, firefighters and law enforcement personnel can be called on to make life and death decisions, witness a young child dying with their grief-stricken family, or be exposed to a myriad of communicable diseases and known carcinogens. Firefighters and law enforcement personnel are constantly at significant risk of bodily harm or physical assault while they perform their duties.
(c) Constant, cumulative exposure to these horrific events make firefighters and law enforcement personnel uniquely susceptible to the emotional and behavioral impacts of job-related stressors. This is especially evident given that the nature of the job often calls for lengthy separation from their families due to a long shift or wildfire strike team response.
(d) While the cumulative impacts of these aggressive, deadly events are taking their toll, our firefighters and law enforcement officers continue to stand up to human-caused devastation and nature’s fury, but they are physically and emotionally exhausted.
(e) Trauma-related injuries can become overwhelming and manifest in post-traumatic stress, which may result in substance use disorders and even, tragically, suicide. The fire service is four times more likely to experience a suicide than a work-related death in the line of duty in any year.
(f) It is imperative for society to recognize occupational injuries related to post-traumatic stress can be severe, and to encourage peace officers, firefighters, and any other workers suffering from those occupational injuries to promptly seek diagnosis and treatment without stigma. This includes recognizing that severe psychological injury as a result of trauma is not “disordered,” but is a normal and natural human response to trauma, the negative effects of which can be ameliorated through diagnosis and effective treatment.

SEC. 2.

 Section 3212.15 is added to the Labor Code, immediately following Section 3212.1, to read:

3212.15.
 (a) This section applies to all of the following:
(1) Active firefighting members, whether volunteers, partly paid, or fully paid, of all of the following fire departments:
(A) A fire department of a city, county, city and county, district, or other public or municipal corporation or political subdivision.
(B) A fire department of the University of California and the California State University.
(C) The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
(D) A county forestry or firefighting department or unit.
(2) Active firefighting members of a fire department that serves a United States Department of Defense installation and who are certified by the Department of Defense as meeting its standards for firefighters.
(3) Active firefighting members of a fire department that serves a National Aeronautics and Space Administration installation and who adhere to training standards established in accordance with Article 4 (commencing with Section 13155) of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of Division 12 of the Health and Safety Code.
(4) Peace officers, as defined in Section 830.1, subdivisions (a), (b), and (c) of Section 830.2, Section 830.32, subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 830.37, and Sections 830.5 and 830.55 of the Penal Code, who are primarily engaged in active law enforcement activities.
(5) (A) Fire and rescue services coordinators who work for the Office of Emergency Services.
(B) For purposes of this paragraph, “fire and rescue services coordinators” means coordinators with any of the following job classifications: coordinator, senior coordinator, or chief coordinator.
(b) In the case of a person described in subdivision (a), the term “injury,” as used in this division, includes “post-traumatic stress disorder,” as diagnosed according to the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association and that develops or manifests itself during a period in which any member described in subdivision (a) is in the service of the department or unit.
(c) For an injury that is diagnosed as specified in subdivision (b):
(1) The compensation that is awarded shall include full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits, as provided by this division.
(2) The injury so developing or manifesting itself in these cases shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment. This presumption is disputable and may be controverted by other evidence, but 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 3 calendar months for each full year of the requisite service, but not to exceed 60 months in any circumstance, commencing with the last date actually worked in the specified capacity.
(d) Compensation shall not be paid pursuant to this section for a claim of injury unless the member has performed services for the department or unit for at least six months. The six months of employment need not be continuous. This subdivision does not apply if the injury is caused by a sudden and extraordinary employment condition.
(e) This section applies to injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2020.
(f) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2025, and as of that date is repealed.