State Senator Cathy Osten, who chairs the labor committee, announced Thursday she plans to introduce legislation expanding workers’ compensation law to cover people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such a bill would allow workers affected by the Newtown tragedy to apply.
“We want to include all workers who were involved in the horrific Newtown scene,” said Osten, who said she believes the law should be changed to cover people who experience traumatic incidents on the job. Current law does not allow employees who have experienced emotional trauma or psychological injury to apply for paid leave or medical treatment, but the Sandy Hook shooting could change that.
“Workers’ compensation is not only about physical injuries, it’s about the psychological and emotional trauma that occurs around events such as Newtown and in the daily street shootings we hear about in Connecticut,” said Osten in a press release.
On Tuesday night, the day before the legislative session convened, the Newtown Board of Police Commissioners submitted a request asking the legislature to address this issue and to amend current law so that police officers, first responders, and Sandy Hook staff would be eligible to apply for workers’ comp. Police Union President Scott Ruszczyk, who attended the meeting, explicitly expressed concerns about PTSD and the fact that it’s not a basis for a claim as the law stands now.
Expanding eligibility can be difficult politically, especially in the midst of budget constraints, but Osten said she was confident the legislation could pass. “Costs are a part of it, and I don’t expect this to happen anytime in the next month or so,” she said. “I think that this is going to get broad support because of what happened in Sandy Hook, but it is going to require a discussion.”