Correctional officers may benefit from workers' compensation bill

If you're hurt at work, you know the importance of seeking the right medical attention. The last thing you'll want to have to do is wonder how you'll pay for the time you have to miss from work or how you'll afford ongoing medical treatments. In cases where correctional officers were injured on the job by problems that are usually unnoticed, like heart disease or hypertension, there didn't used to be much help from workers' compensation in Maryland. Now, though, that may change, according to a report from Feb. 17.

The new bill is important because it addresses the impact stress can have on a person's health. Correctional officers directly face stressful situations day after day, and it can be considered as one of the most dangerous jobs in the state, according to the General Assembly Delegate, Kevin Kelly. He supports a bill that will help correctional officers pursue workers' compensation claims for heart disease and hypertension, because the job is such that the workers can't get away from the stress, even after they leave for the day.

The bill would extend workers' compensation rights to state correctional officers who have hypertension or heart disease that is more severe than before the job was started. The definition of a public safety official would also be altered to include correctional officers, which would allow them to access a greater number of workers' compensation benefits. Right now, firefighters, police, and other workers can already take advantage of presumption in compensation hearings, so they can claim for less-often reported injuries like stress-related heart problems.

If the bill is passed, there are around 6,800 correctional officers who would be impacted by the change. Another bill is also being prepared to help extend those privileges to officers in Allegany County Detention Centers. The bill will allegedly require additional money from the state to be able to enhance the compensation benefits for the officers.

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