It is now official Hanford workers are covered by a new law. This new law makes it much easier and less expensive for Hanford workers to successfully open an L&I occupational disease claim.
This new law creates a legal presumption that certain medical conditions of Hanford workers are occupational diseases. The medical conditions are:
A. respiratory disease;
B. heart problems, experienced within 72 hours of exposure to fumes, toxic substances, or chemicals at the site;
C. certain cancers as specified in the new law; Cancer coverage is different.
D. acute and chronic beryllium disease;
E. neurological disease
This new law doesn’t prove your claim. You have to file and prove your claim. But now you can do it, because the playing field has been leveled. This new law creates a legal presumption which makes it easier to prove your claim.
The legal presumption created by this new law is a procedural rule designed to assist persons when they are proving a claim. As it applies to this new law, the listed diseases and conditions will now be presumed to be work related unless proven otherwise.
An occupational disease is a job related medical condition which typically develops slowly and over time. For example, a tank farm worker who repeatedly breathes chemical vapors, is at risk to develop a neurological disease. That on the job neurological disease is an occupational disease. For a lengthy definition, see occupational disease.
“A United States department of energy Hanford site worker” and “Hanford Site Worker” means any person, including a contractor or subcontractor, who was engaged in the performance of work either directly or indirectly, for the United States, regarding projects and contracts at the Hanford nuclear site and who worked on the site at the 200 east, 200 west, 300 area, environmental restoration disposal facility site, central plateau, or the river corridor locations for at least one eight-hour shift while covered under this title.
Hanford workers are employed by or ultimately work on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. (DOE)
The DOE has repeatedly denied access to information about chemical exposures, resulting in an unfair failure to protect and help these workers. Hanford workers have been doing the secret and dirty work of this nation since the 1940’s, yet they have been rewarded by being effectively shut out of the workers’ compensation system. This is so because proof of an occupational disease claim requires a physician to know and understand the chemicals and toxins involved and connect them to the terrible diseases these workers are contracting. This can’t be done when nobody, not even the DOE knows what the chemicals are, the DOE doesn’t keep adequate track of exposures, and the DOE is self policed and not subject to Washington State L&I regulation.
The authors of this new law should be congratulated. It is the result of hard work by the Labor and Workplace Standards House Committee, Representative Haler and others; to include;Jeffery Johnson,Washington State Labor Council; Nickolas Bumpaous, United Association Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 598; Melinda Rouse; Lonnie Rouse; Abelardo Garza; Bertolla Bugarin; Seth Ellingsworth; Don Slaugh, Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council; Tom Carpenter, Hanford Challenge; Steven Gilbert, Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders; Richard Lipsky, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility; Michael White, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters; and Susannah Frame, King 5 Chief Investigative Reporter:
In addition to the new Washington State L&I law above mentioned, there are federal benefits for Hanford workers:
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