On behalf of Smiley & Smiley, LLP posted in Worker Safety on Tuesday, September 11, 2012.
Today, people all across America are honoring and reflecting upon September 11, 2001. From California to Florida, Minnesota to Louisiana, Americans across the nation have been affected deeply by the events of that day. However, the New Yorkers who saw, heard, smelled and fled from the chaos reflect in unique ways. As do those who ran into the devastation, rather than away from it.
First responders and those who worked at Ground Zero until the new Trade Centers could be constructed were exposed to sights, sounds and substances that no one else in America was able to perceive up-close. Some of these brave individuals suffered catastrophic injury as a result of their actions on that first day. Others developed debilitating illnesses as time moved forward.
To the outrage of many, not all of the ill workers who so bravely leant their time and talents to the aftermath of the attacks have been able to receive the medical care and consideration that they have earned.
Even after the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act was passed, certain illnesses caused by exposure to debris from the fall of the Twin Towers were not considered "officially linked" to the attacks. As a result, workers were not granted medical coverage for these conditions.
Finally, eleven years after the day that changed America forever, workers who have developed cancer as a result of their contributions to the aftermath will be extended coverage for their treatment. Specifically, the federal government has recently added 14 separate categories of cancer to the register of illnesses officially linked to the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
This decision was both welcome and long-overdue. Addressing worker safety and occupational illness is a complicated issue in the most predictable of operations. Responding to these issues on behalf of 9/11 workers may be infinitely more complex, but it is also extraordinarily simple as well: those who became ill while helping to save New Yorkers and rebuild New York should be entitled to the medical coverage they have earned. For many New Yorkers, this entitlement has finally become a reality.
Source: NBC News, "US adds cancer to list of illnesses linked to 9/11 terror attacks," Sep. 10, 2012
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