New York workers are generally covered by the Workers’ Compensation Law, but there are special laws which cover volunteer first responders – firefighters and ambulance workers.
Closely aligned with the Workers’ Compensation Law are the Volunteer Firefighter Benefits Law (VFBL) and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers Benefit Law (VAWBL). As their titles suggest, these two laws protect people who volunteer in the potentially hazardous duties of fighting fires, responding to motor vehicle accidents and tending to those injured in a variety of circumstances. While not all firefighters and ambulance workers are unpaid, many areas outside the five boroughs of New York City and other smaller cities maintain volunteer forces to provide these indispensable services. Given the inherent danger involved, volunteers often suffer injury when “on duty”.
In the event of an injury, both laws provide wage replacement benefits and medical coverage. Also, there is a “built in” presumption of an earning capacity for volunteers; therefore, even if a volunteer is not otherwise employed, she or he may be entitled to benefits. In addition to physical injury, the laws cover such events as exposure to noxious fumes, smoke or chemicals and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The list of what entails an “injury in the line of firematic or ambulance worker duty” is extensive. These events include maintaining vehicles and participation in certain department-sanctioned events. We take pride in representing those who volunteer their efforts in the service of others, especially when those efforts can be fraught with danger.
In order to best insure that your rights are protected, be sure to contact our office for a no-cost consultation. And thank you for volunteering!
Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.
Today’s post comes to us from guest author Jon Gelman of New Jersey. For more information about have your Superstorm Sandy-related insurance claim reviewed by our firm, please read our blog post.
Recently Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd urged those engaged in Hurricane clean up activities to make sure they protect themselves against environmental hazards that may be present in storm damaged homes and buildings.
Mold, materials containing asbestos and lead-based paint may all be potential hazards in storm damaged buildings. Homeowners and volunteers conducting clean up or remediation work should ensure their safety by wearing protective equipment appropriate for the work they are doing. Protective equipment may include waterproof boots, gloves, goggles and a respirator.
“Homeowners doing clean up work and the volunteers assisting them are critical assets in New Jersey’s recovery efforts, but making sure they protect themselves is equally important,” said Commissioner O’Dowd.
“Homeowners and volunteers may not be familiar with the environmental hazards that may be present in storm damaged buildings or what the appropriate protective measures that are needed,” the Commissioner added.
Those involved in clean up activities should also check with their health care provider to determine if they need a booster shot or tetanus vaccination. Everyone should be immunized with a tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis-containing vaccine. Individuals should receive a tetanus booster if they have not been vaccinated for tetanus during the past 10 years.
People who sustain a wound should check with their healthcare provider to determine if they need to be vaccinated, as the decision will depend on an assessment of the wound and the person’s past immunization history.
Below are some do’s and don’ts for clean up work:
- Call a professional if you feel the work is too extensive
- Talk to an environmental health professional about safety and working in a building that has been damaged by the storm
- Wear appropriate protective equipment including gloves, hard hats, goggle, and boots
- Wear the appropriate respirator. A single respirator may not protect you against all of the hazards that may be present. A dust respirator will not protect you against vapors from oils or fuels
- Make sure you are fit to wear a respirator and to conduct the work. Remediation and clean up work can be very strenuous and breathing through a respirator can add additional stress to breathing. Talk with a healthcare professional if you are uncertain about the risks of wearing a respirator
- Take frequent breaks and remain hydrated
- Wash hands and any areas where your skin contacts debris
- Do not enter the building if you are uncertain about the buildings stability or of any hazards that may exist
- Do not conduct any work without Continue reading
Prior results do not guarantee outcomes.