If an employee witnesses a horrific event at work, such as multiple people being shot to death, should workers’ compensation insurance cover treatment for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Coverage for PTSD treatment under workers’ comp is banned in many states.
Minnesota is about to change that. Its state House and Senate have both passed a bill that would, among other things, add PTSD to the list of covered occupational diseases under workers’ comp. Minnesota’s governor is expected to sign the bill into law.
The change came out of the Red Lake school shootings in 2005. A 16-year-old shot and killed seven people at the school and wounded five others before taking his own life when police arrived.
One of the teachers at the school claimed PTSD but was denied workers’ comp coverage because it wasn’t on the list of covered diseases.
The bill adding PTSD to that list received support from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO. While it’s difficult to predict how this might affect workers’ comp insurance premiums for employers, estimates range from a 0.5% to a 4.0% increase.
The measure explicitly excludes coverage for mental impairments resulting from disciplinary action, job transfer, layoff, demotion, promotion, termination, retirement or similar action taken in good faith by an employer.
Will Connecticut be next?
Another state where PTSD isn’t covered under workers’ comp: Connecticut.
Of course, this impacts responders and teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School where 20 children and six adult staffers were shot to death. Reports say police officers have had to take sick and vacation time to deal with the PTSD they suffer from responding to what many of them have described as the worst incident in their careers.
Senate Bill 823 in the Connecticut legislature would add PTSD to the list of covered conditions under workers’ comp in the state.
So far, although the bill has been considered in committee, it hasn’t come to a vote in the entire legislature.
Do you think PTSD should be covered under workers’ comp for first responders and/or any workers who witness horrific incidents in the workplace? Let us know what you think in the comments below.