The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and the Ohio fire marshal recently announced that they will work together to address the high rate of cancer among firefighters. They plan to provide grants to fire departments throughout the state for protective equipment and to provide funding for training, exposure prevention and the improvement of emergency responses – the BWC is allocating $1 million and the fire marshal has provided a $500,000 fund to advance these goals.
According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), 68 percent of firefighters get cancer in their lifetimes. They are at least 14 percent more likely to develop cancer than the general public because firefighters are regularly exposed to occupational carcinogens. A Dispatch statewide survey of 1,300 firefighters revealed that one in six firefighters has been diagnosed with cancer during his or her career, most likely from toxic exposure.
The state fire marshal stated that he wants to ensure that the firefighters who put constantly put their lives on the line are safely equipped to do their jobs. The BWC administrator and CEO acknowledges that firefighters face increased hazards of occupational disease trying to protect fellow Ohioans and that the bureau has committed resources to improving their safety and health. The agencies will be contacting all fire departments in Ohio to offer training grants for the purchase of protective equipment.
The fire marshal plans to propose training, grants and loans from his office in the Ohio Department of Commerce to help fund improved training and equipment purchases. There will be grants specifically available to departments that serve communities of less than 25,000 people. The agencies hope that their collective efforts will lead to less occupational disease and Workers’ compensation claims for Ohio firefighters.
Source: The Columbus Dispatch, Workers’ Comp, Fire Marshal team up to address firefighter cancer, Lucas Sullivan & Mike Wagner, November 21, 2017