Cathy Osten


Cathy Osten



June 1, 2021

Sen. Osten Votes to Expand Workers’ Compensation Benefits to Correctional Officers, EMS, Dispatchers and Others

HARTFORD – Building on a promise she made two years ago to expand workers’ compensation benefits to other first responders besides police, firefighters and parole officers, state Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) today joined her colleagues in the state Senate in voting for a bill that will 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.

Under 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,” post-traumatic stress injury events covered under workers’ compensation include incidents where: an individual views a deceased minor; witnesses a person’s death or incident causing a person’s death or an 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 qualify 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.

“This was a promise made and a promise kept to people who work in high-stress jobs, with a lot of post-traumatic stress and a lot of suicides in their professions,” Sen. Osten said. “We always talk about honoring and recognizing our first responders and our health care workers as heroes. This bill recognizes the important and very difficult work that they do, and it gives them a little bit of protection if they find themselves having difficulty coping with the sights and sounds and experiences that first responders go through day-in and day-out.”

In 2019, after six years of effort and opposition from various city and town leaders, Sen. Osten led state passage of a bill that provided Connecticut’s police officers and firefighters with workers’ compensation coverage for the emotional and mental injuries they suffer on the job after witnessing some particularly horrible trauma.

That bill expanded the definition of ‘personal injury’ in state workers’ compensation laws to include so-called “mental-mental” injuries (a mental injury without an accompanying physical injury), as of July 1, 2019. The new provisions covered an estimated 36,000 state and local employees, including 26,800 firefighters, 8,180 police officers, 958 state police officers and 140 parole officers.

For her work on that 2019 bill, Sen. Osten received a Distinguished Leadership Award from the Police Officers Association of Connecticut in appreciation of her leadership and advocacy in protecting Connecticut’s first responders.

The following year, Sen. Osten sat through an emotional four-hour public hearing on the need to extend Post Traumatic Stress Injury benefits to EMS workers, emergency dispatchers and corrections officers. She pledged then to introduce and pass a bipartisan measure in the state legislature.

“It was always just a matter of time until we added EMS workers, dispatchers and correctional officers to the list of people who need and deserve workers’ comp coverage for post-traumatic stress events,” she said at the time. “The old arguments from some town officials and fiscally conservative Republicans that we just can’t do this because it’s too expensive – those arguments don’t hold water anymore, especially the way workers’ comp costs have dropped so dramatically in Connecticut over the past several years.”