Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



May 26, 2021

Senator Needleman Joins Senate Vote to Expand Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Health Care Providers, Including Ems Personnel, Department of Corrections Employees, Emergency Dispatchers and Health Care Providers Related to COVID-19

Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) joined the Senate in its approval of a bill that would expand eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits for post-traumatic stress injuries to include emergency medical services personnel, Department of Correction employees, telecommunicators such as 911 emergency dispatchers and, under certain COVID-19-related circumstances, health care providers.

“As the first selectman of Essex, I work with first responders and have seen the extreme sacrifices they make for our communities,” said Sen. Needleman. “On a regular basis, they see events many of us would consider the worst days of our lives, and the extreme emotional stress of those moments often leaves them struggling. Today, we’re taking action to provide post-traumatic stress relief to them, and to health care professionals who saw so much tragedy during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m grateful to State Senator Julie Kushner, leader of the Labor Committee, in fighting for this support for the people who keep our communities safe.”

Senate Bill 660, “An Act Expanding Workers’ Compensation Benefits For Certain Mental Or Emotional Impairments Suffered By Health Care Providers In Connection With COVID-19,” seeks to expand workers’ compensation for post-traumatic stress injuries to cover emergency medical services personnel, all Department of Correction employees, telecommunicators such as 911 emergency dispatchers and health care providers who experienced certain circumstances related to COVID-19. The bill also changes “post-traumatic stress disorder” to “post-traumatic stress injury” in current law.

PTSI events compensable with workers’ compensation benefits for emergency health workers and Department of Corrections employees include incidents where an individual views a deceased minor, witnesses a person’s death or incident causing a person’s death, injury to someone who dies before or upon admission to a hospital, traumatic physical injury leading to permanent disfigurement or amputation, or having physical contact with/treating injured persons who die before or upon admission. Emergency dispatchers can receive aid if they hear such incidents by radio or telephone.

Health care providers who witnessed death due to COVID-19, witnessed injury to someone who died from COVID-19, cared for someone who died of COVID-19 or witnessed traumatic physical injury leading to loss of vital body function due to COVID-19 would be eligible for PTSI workers’ compensation benefits. “Health care provider” specifically refers to people employed at doctor’s offices, hospitals, health care centers, clinics, medical schools, health departments, nursing facilities, retirement facilities, nursing homes, group homes, home health providers, laboratory and medical testing, pharmacies and personal care providers regularly employed for at least 26 hours per week.

Under the bill, PTSI benefits would be capped at 52 weeks; would be prohibited from being awarded beyond four years after a qualifying event, which must happen after July 1, 2019 under current law; and requires employers contest such a claim through a process similar to other workers’ compensation claims.

The Labor and Public Employees Committee unanimously approved the legislation in March. It now proceeds to the House for further debate and potential approval.