Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
Saskatchewan’s 6,500 volunteer firefighters will have access to the same presumptive coverage as professional firefighters with the expansion of WCB coverage to include volunteer firefighters.
“We are extending presumptive coverage to volunteer firefighters to make it easier for them to access the supports they need,” Saskatchewan’s Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan announced on April 18, 2019.
Expanded presumptive coverage, which will come into force on proclamation, will includes six additional cancers – multiple myeloma, prostate, skin, breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. The move towards expanded coverage was first introduced for professional firefighters through an amendment to the legislation introduced in December, 2018. Applicants need to provide a diagnosis and other required information from a medical professional to support their claim.
WorkSafe Saskatchewan highlighted the increase in firefighter occupational cancer diagnoses and deaths. Firefighter cancer was a second leading cause of occupational disease-related fatalities in the province in 2018, according for 30% of all workplace deaths related to occupational disease.
“The rise in firefighter cancer diagnosis is quite concerning,” says Kevin Mooney, Dir. of prevention with Saskatchewan WCB in Regina.
In response, WorkSafe Saskatchewan commissioned a pilot program, in collaboration with Firefighter Cancer Consultants, LLC and several fire departments, to better understand the current firefighter-preventative landscape. 15 fires stations, including eight departments, took part in the program.
Area of improvement identified in the program include the use of self-contained breathing apparatus throughout the duration of overhaul, fire-gear storage, back-up sets of personal protective equipment, washing soiled uniforms after a fire, exposure documentation and department-based annual medical physicals.
Each of the eight participating departments will receive an individualized report with an action plan on how to address the gaps identified. As well, WorkSafe plans to survey more fire departments to confirm the areas for improvement identified in the pilot program.
This type message has been going around Canada for the past 10 or so years. It is great to see so many jurisdictions realize that firefighters have been placed in very peril and cancer-causing agents are just some of the hazards they face.
Please read the following blog posts: #545, #847, #982, #999, #1012, #1042 for more details. It lists the changes made by Alberta, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and British Columbia to their legislation to improve access to treatment for our first responders which include the firefighters.
The read will be an eye opener.
HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.
We can also be reached at email@example.com
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
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‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.