What is this new law about?
On March 7th, Governor Inslee signed House Bill 1723 that broadens the criteria for Hanford workers to qualify for workers compensation claims. That means people who have been denied claims previously may now qualify and it may be easier for new claims to be approved.
What is the definition of a Hanford worker?
Per HB 1723, “a Hanford site worker is any person, including contractor or subcontractor, who was engaged in the performance of work, either directly or indirectly, for the United States, on projects and contracts at the Hanford nuclear site and worked on the site for at least one eight-hour shift while covered under the state’s industrial insurance laws.
What types of diseases and conditions may be covered?
The bill states that a prima facie presumption of occupational disease will now apply. That means certain diseases and conditions will be accepted as work-related unless proven otherwise, instead of the other way around. These potentially covered diseases and conditions are to include:
- Respiratory disease;
- Acute and chronic beryllium disease;
- Heart problems, experienced within 72 hours of exposure to fumes, toxic substances, or chemicals at the site;
- Certain cancers specified in the bill; and
- Neurological disease
What types of cancers may be covered?
The bill states that “regarding cancer, the [prima facie] presumption only applies to a worker who has cancer that develops or manifests and who was given a qualifying medical examination upon becoming a Hanford site worker that showed no evidence of cancer”, including:
- Primary or secondary lung cancer (with certain limitations);
- Primary or secondary bone cancer;
- Primary or secondary renal cancer;
- Lymphomas, other than Hodgkin’s disease;
- Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia and mycosis fungoides; and
- Primary cancer of the: thyroid, male or female breast, esophagus, stomach, pharynx, small intestine, pancreas, bile ducts, gall bladder, salivary gland, urinary bladder, brain (with certain limitations), colon, ovary and liver (with certain limitations).
Are claims allowed for survivors of a deceased workers?
Yes, the bill states “a worker, or survivor of a worker who has died from one of the conditions or diseases, whose claim was denied by the L&I, the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, or a court, may file a new claim for the same exposure and contended condition or disease.”
When do these changes take effect?
The bill will take effect 90 days after it is passed but it may be advisable to have an attorney review your potential claim in advance to ensure all provisions of the new bill are followed correctly as your appeal or new claim is processed.
Where can I see a copy of the new bill?
Click here to download a copy of HB 1723.
Watch – “Governor Inslee Signs New Bill into Law”: