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CODE PART:

Code of Virginia
Title 9.1 Commonwealth Public Safety
Chapter 2. Department of Fire Programs
§ 9.1-203.1 Firefighter mental health awareness training

Title 65.2 WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
Chapter 1. Definitions and General Provisions
§ 65.2-107. Post-traumatic stress disorder incurred by law-enforcement officers and firefighters.
Chapter 4. Occupational Diseases
§ 65.2-402. Presumption as to death or disability from respiratory disease, hypertension or heart disease, cancer.
§ 65.2-402.1. Presumption as to death or disability from infectious disease.

Virginia Legislative Website

DESCRIPTION:

§ 9.1-203.1. Firefighter mental health awareness training.
A. Each fire department as defined in § 27-6.01 shall develop curricula for mental health awareness training for its personnel, which shall include training regarding the following:
1. Understanding signs and symptoms of cumulative stress, depression, anxiety, exposure to acute and chronic trauma, compulsive behaviors, and addiction;
2. Combating and overcoming stigmas;
3. Responding appropriately to aggressive behaviors such as domestic violence and harassment; and
4. Accessing available mental health treatment and resources; and
5. Managing stress, self-care techniques, and resiliency.
B. Any fire department may develop the mental health awareness training curricula in conjunction with other fire departments or firefighter stakeholder groups or may use any training program, developed by any entity, that satisfies the criteria set forth in subsection A.
C. Firefighters who receive mental health awareness training in accordance with this section shall receive appropriate continuing education credits from the Department of Fire Programs and the Virginia Fire Services Board.

§ 65.2-107. Post-traumatic stress disorder incurred by law-enforcement officers and firefighters.
A. As used in this section:
“Firefighter” means any (i) salaried firefighter, including special forest wardens designated pursuanto § 10.1-1135, emergency medical services personnel, and local or state fire scene investigator and (ii) volunteer firefighter and volunteer emergency medical services personnel.
“In the line of duty” means any action that a law-enforcement officer or firefighter was obligated or authorized to perform by rule, regulation, written condition of employment service, or law.
“Law-enforcement officer” means any (i) member of the State Police Officers’ Retirement System; (ii) member of a county, city, or town police department; (iii) sheriff or deputy sheriff; (iv) Department of Emergency Management hazardous materials officer; (v) city sergeant or deputy city sergeant of the City of Richmond; (vi) Virginia Marine Police officer; (vii) conservation police officer who is a full-time sworn member of the enforcement division of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries; (viii) Capitol Police officer; (ix) special agent of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority appointed under the provisions of Chapter 1 (§ 4.1-100 et seq.) of Title 4.1; (x) for such period that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority voluntarily subjects itself to the provisions of this chapter as provided in § 65.2-305, officer of the police force established and maintained by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; (xi) officer of the police force established and maintained by the Norfolk Airport Authority; (xii) sworn officer of the police force established and maintained by the Virginia Port Authority; or (xiii) campus police officer appointed under Article 3 (§ 23.1-809 et seq.) of Chapter 8 of Title 23.1 and employed by any public institution of higher education,
“Mental health professional” means a board-certified psychiatrist or a psychologist licensed pursuant to Title 54.1 who has experience diagnosing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder” means a disorder that meets the diagnostic criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder as specified in the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
“Qualifying event” means an incident or exposure occurring in the line of duty on or after July 1, 2020:
1. Resulting in serious bodily injury or death to any person or persons;
2. Involving a minor who has been injured, killed, abused, or exploited;
3. Involving an immediate threat to life of the claimant or another individual;
4. Involving mass casualties; or
5. Responding to crime scenes for investigation.
B. Post-traumatic stress disorder incurred by a law-enforcement officer or firefighter is compensable under this title if:
1. A mental health professional examines a law-enforcement officer or firefighter and diagnoses the law-enforcement officer or firefighter as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the individual’s undergoing a qualifying event;
2. The post-traumatic stress disorder resulted from the law-enforcement officer’s or firefighter’s acting in the line of duty and, in the case of a firefighter, such firefighter complied with federal Occupational Safety and Health Act standards adopted pursuant to 29 C.F.R. 1910.134 and 29 C.F.R. 1910.156;
3. The law-enforcement officer’s or firefighter’s undergoing a qualifying event was a substantial factor in causing his post-traumatic stress disorder;
4. Such qualifying event, and not another event or source of stress, was the primary cause of the post-traumatic stress disorder; and
5. The post-traumatic stress disorder did not result from any disciplinary action, work evaluation, job transfer, layoff, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement, or similar action of the law-enforcement officer or firefighter.
Any such mental health professional shall comply with any workers’ compensation guidelines for approved medical providers, including guidelines on release of past or contemporaneous medical records.
C. Notwithstanding any provision of this title, workers’ compensation benefits for any law-enforcement officer or firefighter payable pursuant to this section shall (i) include any combination of medical treatment prescribed by a board-certified psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist, temporary total incapacity benefits under § 65.2-500, and temporary partial incapacity benefits under § 65.2-502 and (ii) be provided for a maximum of 52 weeks from the date of diagnosis. No medical treatment, temporary total incapacity benefits under § 65.2-500, or temporary partial incapacity benefits under § 65.2-502 shall be awarded beyond four years from the date of the qualifying event that formed the basis for the claim for benefits under this section. The weekly benefits received by a law-enforcement officer or a firefighter pursuant to § 65.2-500 or 65.2-502, when combined with other benefits, including contributory and noncontributory retirement benefits, Social Security benefits, and benefits under a long-term or short-term disability plan, but not including payments for medical care, shall not exceed the average weekly wage paid to such law-enforcement officer or firefighter.
D. No later than January 1, 2021, each employer of law-enforcement officers or firefighters shall (i) make peer support available to such law-enforcement officers and firefighters and (ii) refer a law-enforcement officer or firefighter seeking mental health care services to a mental health professional.

§ 65.2-402. Presumption as to death or disability from respiratory disease, hypertension or heart disease, cancer.

A. Respiratory diseases that cause (i) the death of volunteer or salaried firefighters or Department of Emergency Management hazardous materials officers or (ii) any health condition or impairment of such firefighters or Department of Emergency Management hazardous materials officers resulting in total or partial disability shall be presumed to be occupational diseases, suffered in the line of duty, that are covered by this title unless such presumption is overcome by a preponderance of competent evidence to the contrary.

B. Hypertension or heart disease causing the death of, or any health condition or impairment resulting in total or partial disability of (i) salaried or volunteer firefighters, (ii) members of the State Police Officers’ Retirement System, (iii) members of county, city or town police departments, (iv) sheriffs and deputy sheriffs, (v) Department of Emergency Management hazardous materials officers, (vi) city sergeants or deputy city sergeants of the City of Richmond, (vii) Virginia Marine Police officers, (viii) conservation police officers who are full-time sworn members of the enforcement division of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, (ix) Capitol Police officers, (x) special agents of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control appointed under the provisions of Chapter 1 (§ 4.1-100 et seq.) of Title 4.1, (xi) for such period that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority voluntarily subjects itself to the provisions of this chapter as provided in § 65.2-305, officers of the police force established and maintained by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, and (xii) officers of the police force established and maintained by the Norfolk Airport Authority, shall be presumed to be occupational diseases, suffered in the line of duty, that are covered by this title unless such presumption is overcome by a preponderance of competent evidence to the contrary.

C. Leukemia or pancreatic, prostate, rectal, throat, ovarian, breast, colon, brain, or testicular cancer causing the death of, or any health condition or impairment resulting in total or partial disability of, any volunteer or salaried firefighter, Department of Emergency Management hazardous materials officer, commercial vehicle enforcement officer or motor carrier safety trooper employed by the Department of State Police, or full-time sworn member of the enforcement division of the Department of Motor Vehicles having completed five years of service shall be presumed to be an occupational disease, suffered in the line of duty, that is covered by this title, unless such presumption is overcome by a preponderance of competent evidence to the contrary. For colon, brain, or testicular cancer, the presumption shall not apply for any individual who was diagnosed with such a condition before July 1, 2020.

D. The presumptions described in subsections A, B, and C of this section shall only apply if persons entitled to invoke them have, if requested by the private employer, appointing authority or governing body employing them, undergone preemployment physical examinations that (i) were conducted prior to the making of any claims under this title that rely on such presumptions, (ii) were performed by physicians whose qualifications are as prescribed by the private employer, appointing authority or governing body employing such persons, (iii) included such appropriate laboratory and other diagnostic studies as the private employer, appointing authorities or governing bodies may have prescribed, and (iv) found such persons free of respiratory diseases, hypertension, cancer or heart disease at the time of such examinations.

E. Persons making claims under this title who rely on such presumptions shall, upon the request of private employers, appointing authorities or governing bodies employing such persons, submit to physical examinations (i) conducted by physicians selected by such employers, authorities, bodies or their representatives and (ii) consisting of such tests and studies as may reasonably be required by such physicians. However, a qualified physician, selected and compensated by the claimant, may, at the election of such claimant, be present at such examination.

F. Whenever a claim for death benefits is made under this title and the presumptions of this section are invoked, any person entitled to make such claim shall, upon the request of the appropriate private employer, appointing authority or governing body that had employed the deceased, submit the body of the deceased to a postmortem examination as may be directed by the Commission. A qualified physician, selected and compensated by the person entitled to make the claim, may, at the election of such claimant, be present at such postmortem examination.

G. Volunteer lifesaving and rescue squad members, volunteer law-enforcement chaplains, auxiliary and reserve deputy sheriffs, and auxiliary and reserve police are not included within the coverage of this section.

H. For purposes of this section, the term “firefighter” shall include special forest wardens designated pursuant to § 10.1-1135 and any persons who are employed by or contract with private employers primarily to perform firefighting services.

§ 65.2-402.1. Presumption as to death or disability from infectious disease.

A. Hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis or HIV causing the death of, or any health condition or impairment resulting in total or partial disability of any (i) salaried or volunteer firefighter, paramedic or emergency medical technician, (ii) member of the State Police Officers’ Retirement System, (iii) member of county, city or town police departments, (iv) sheriff or deputy sheriff, (v) Department of Emergency Management hazardous materials officer, (vi) city sergeant or deputy city sergeant of the City of Richmond, (vii) Virginia Marine Police officer, (viii) conservation police officer who is a full-time sworn member of the enforcement division of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, (ix) Capitol Police officer, (x) special agent of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control appointed under the provisions of Chapter 1 (§ 4.1-100 et seq.) of Title 4.1, or (xi) conservation officer of the Department of Conservation and Recreation commissioned pursuant to § 10.1-115, who has a documented occupational exposure to blood or body fluids shall be presumed to be occupational diseases, suffered in the line of government duty, that are covered by this title unless such presumption is overcome by a preponderance of competent evidence to the contrary. For purposes of this section, an occupational exposure occurring on or after July 1, 2002, shall be deemed “documented” if the person covered under this section gave notice, written or otherwise, of the occupational exposure to his employer, and an occupational exposure occurring prior to July 1, 2002, shall be deemed “documented” without regard to whether the person gave notice, written or otherwise, of the occupational exposure to his employer.

B. As used in this section:

“Blood or body fluids” means blood and body fluids containing visible blood and other body fluids to which universal precautions for prevention of occupational transmission of blood-borne pathogens, as established by the Centers for Disease Control, apply. For purposes of potential transmission of hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis, or HIV the term “blood or body fluids” includes respiratory, salivary, and sinus fluids, including droplets, sputum, saliva, mucous, and any other fluid through which infectious airborne or blood-borne organisms can be transmitted between persons.

“Hepatitis” means hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis non-A, hepatitis non-B, hepatitis C or any other strain of hepatitis generally recognized by the medical community.

“HIV” means the medically recognized retrovirus known as human immunodeficiency virus, type I or type II, causing immunodeficiency syndrome.

“Occupational exposure,” in the case of hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis or HIV, means an exposure that occurs during the performance of job duties that places a covered employee at risk of infection.

C. Persons covered under this section who test positive for exposure to the enumerated occupational diseases, but have not yet incurred the requisite total or partial disability, shall otherwise be entitled to make a claim for medical benefits pursuant to § 65.2-603, including entitlement to an annual medical examination to measure the progress of the condition, if any, and any other medical treatment, prophylactic or otherwise.

D. Whenever any standard, medically-recognized vaccine or other form of immunization or prophylaxis exists for the prevention of a communicable disease for which a presumption is established under this section, if medically indicated by the given circumstances pursuant to immunization policies established by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Public Health Service, a person subject to the provisions of this section may be required by such person’s employer to undergo the immunization or prophylaxis unless the person’s physician determines in writing that the immunization or prophylaxis would pose a significant risk to the person’s health. Absent such written declaration, failure or refusal by a person subject to the provisions of this section to undergo such immunization or prophylaxis shall disqualify the person from any presumption established by this section.

E. The presumptions described in subsection A of this section shall only apply if persons entitled to invoke them have, if requested by the appointing authority or governing body employing them, undergone preemployment physical examinations that (i) were conducted prior to the making of any claims under this title that rely on such presumptions, (ii) were performed by physicians whose qualifications are as prescribed by the appointing authority or governing body employing such persons, (iii) included such appropriate laboratory and other diagnostic studies as the appointing authorities or governing bodies may have prescribed, and (iv) found such persons free of hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis or HIV at the time of such examinations. The presumptions described in subsection A of this section shall not be effective until six months following such examinations, unless such persons entitled to invoke such presumption can demonstrate a documented exposure during the six-month period.

F. Persons making claims under this title who rely on such presumption shall, upon the request of appointing authorities or governing bodies employing such persons, submit to physical examinations (i) conducted by physicians selected by such appointing authorities or governing bodies or their representatives and (ii) consisting of such tests and studies as may reasonably be required by such physicians. However, a qualified physician, selected and compensated by the claimant, may, at the election of such claimant, be present at such examination.