New Pennsylvania law may expand occupational injuries

Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act is an essential protection for all types of employees across the state. Although the most notable workplace injuries are often in factories or warehouses where machinery and high-volume products pose risks, office workers can suffer repetitive stress injuries and anyone can experience an accident. One type of injury is getting more attention as it affects a disturbing number of Pennsylvanians.

The government in Harrisburg is considering House Bill 432, which would recognize post-traumatic stress as an occupational injury. First responders, including firefighters and emergency medical technicians, are generally in favor of this distinction, as it would allow them to seek the same protections and workers’ compensation for treatment.

The legislation has changed the common term “post-traumatic stress disorder” to “post-traumatic stress injury” to drive home the point that this sort of stress, especially when repetitive, is an injury that requires diagnosis and treatment just like physical injuries. Post-traumatic stress injury does more than affect a person’s ability to work; it also leads to a serious reduction of quality of life.

More first responders died of suicide in 2018 than in the line of duty. Colleagues and survivors of first responders emphasize the need to prevent this in the future through increased awareness and effective treatment.

Victims of any sort of illness or injury that originated with work and the workplace have the right to seek reimbursement of medical expenses or the guarantee of future expenses. An attorney can help organize a workers’ compensation claim or fight the rejection of one until a victim of a work injury gets the final response.