An Ohio fire captain recently passed away from an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme. He worked for the Beachwood Fire Department and for the Willowick Fire Department for over twenty years. This fire captain leaves behind not only a wife and five children, but also a legacy. He was an advocate for firefighters suffering from occupational diseases and was successful in getting legislation passed earlier this year that provides easier access to compensation.
A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reveals that 68 percent of firefighters get cancer in their lifetimes, a much higher statistic than for the general public. However, in workers’ compensation cases involving toxic exposure, proving a causal link between the disease and the occupation can be difficult because of the potential that the disease was caused by other, non-employment related factors.
The Michael Louis Palumbo Act establishes a presumption that firefighters who were assigned to hazardous duty for at least six years and who were exposed to high-level carcinogens developed cancer because of their job. For firefighters diagnosed with cancer, this legislation is an improvement in workers’ compensation law because it establishes a causal link between the cancer and the workers’ duties as a firefighter, thereby increasing their chances of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.
Anyone suffering from an occupational disease or family members of those who lost their lives due to an occupational disease may explore their legal options in order to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. For Ohio firefighters, the road to legal recovery is made a little smoother thanks to this fallen hero who inspired positive change for Ohio firefighters harmed in the line of duty.
Source: The News-Herald, “Area hero, longtime firefighter Michael Palumbo loses battle with cancer“, Kristi Garabrandt, May 24, 2017