OLYMPIA – Firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians who experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from their job will be able to make claims for workers’ compensation under a bill signed today by Gov. Jay Inslee.
State law currently prohibits workers’ compensation claims based on mental conditions or disabilities caused by stress. Senate Bill 6214, sponsored by Sen. Steve Conway, D-South Tacoma, exempts firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians suffering from PTSD from that bar and creates a rebuttable presumption that they are eligible for workers’ compensation.
“The military has recognized PTSD as a work-caused condition and is taking steps to address it,” Conway said. “Our firefighters, police officers and other first responders are exposed to a level of trauma on the job that the average person doesn’t face, and it can take a heavy toll. We need to address it through the workers’ compensation system so that they get the support they need and deserve.”
The bill, which received wide bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, contains safeguards against abuse. Individuals could only make a workers’ compensation claim for PTSD if they had served for 10 years before the condition developed. Additionally, a PTSD-related claim would not be allowed if the condition resulted from disciplinary action, work evaluations, transfers, layoffs or firings done in good faith by an employer.