Legislation designating nine types of cancer as on-the-job injuries for firefighters cleared a House committee Tuesday despite opposition from a powerful lobbying group.
Statistically, firefighters are at a higher risk than the general public for esophageal, intestinal, rectal, testicular, brain and oral cavity cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma and mesothelioma. House Bill 520 would change North Carolina's workers compensation law to presume that a firefighter diagnosed with one of those cancers got it on the job.
Currently, firefighters who can't prove their cancer was caused by their occupation must get their insurance to cover as much of their treatment costs as possible. Many have to keep working through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Sarah Collins, legislative counsel for the North Carolina League of Municipalities, argued against the change, saying adjusting workers comp for a single class of employees has been found unconstitutional by the courts in the past.