October 16, 2023

California Enacts Skin Cancer Presumptions for First Responder and Other Occupations

California Senate Bill 391 has been enacted into law, requiring workers’ comp programs to cover skin cancer that develops or manifests itself during the period of employment for first responders, lifeguards, and certain peace officers of the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Benefits covered include full hospital, surgical, and medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits.

This presumption shall be extended following termination of service for a period of three 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.

Due to the nature of their work, firefighters are at a much higher risk of developing skin cancer due to their exposure to hazardous substances. However, the inclusion of other, primarily outdoor occupations is notable, especially in the face of climate change.

Current scientific research postulates that ozone depletion, rising temperatures, and air pollution have led to decreased protection against UV radiation, increasing the likelihood of developing skin cancer, especially with increased time spent outdoors during times of high heat.

If this research finds greater validation in the scientific community, it raises the question on whether skin cancer will be recognized as an occupational disease across other professions in the future. For more on how climate change may impact workers’ comp, visit our recent blog post.

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