Florida Considers PTSD For Correctional Officers

Liz Carey

Kissimmee, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – A Florida legislator is proposing a bill that would force the state’s workers’ compensation program to cover post-traumatic stress disorder in correctional officers.

The move comes after Florida passed legislation last year to have PTSD among first responders covered by workers’ compensation.

Sen. Victor Torres, D-Kissimmee last week introduced a bill that would provide such coverage to correctional officers who have witnessed traumatic events. According to a draft of the bill, “under certain circumstances, posttraumatic (sic) stress disorder suffered by a correctional officer is an occupational disease compensable by workers’ compensation benefits.”

The benefits would “not require a physical injury and are not subject to certain apportionment or limitations, providing a time for notice of injury or death,” the bill said.

Correctional officers would need to be diagnosed with PTSD by a professional after witnessing events listed in the bill; including death to individuals, or discovery of deceased individual. Special attention would be given to an officer who witnesses events occurring to a child.

The language is similar to a bill passed last year in Florida that ensures first responders are covered by workers’ compensation for PTSD.

As mass shootings become more prevalent in American society, some are calling for workers’ compensation to cover PTSD in the workplace for all. How PTSD is covered varies from state-to-state.

“A mental health condition is no less serious than a physical injury and must be addressed in the same manner,” wrote Bethany Laurence on the disabilitysecrets.com blog.

For Selene San Felice, 24, a survivor of the Capital Gazette shooting in 2018 during which a gunman opened fire on the newspaper’s newsroom because of a five-year grudge against an editorial, managing the symptoms of PTSD is something the country has to address for those who see tragic events in the workplace. San Felice survived by hiding under a desk. Afterwards, as police escorted her from the building, she was told to “keep (their) eyes forward… and step over” their co-workers’ bodies.

“There are people all around the country and all around the world who are just sitting with these massive amounts of PTSD, and we need to know how to get through it,” San Felice was quoted as saying by Time Magazine. “We’re having a national conversation about mental health and anxiety, but we’ve got to do something to talk about what happens after.”

Torres’ bill was referred to the Oversight, Transparency and Public Management Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee within the State Affairs Committee. If passed, the bill would go into effect Oct. 1, 2020, one year after its first responder PTSD bill went into effect.

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