A proposed re-definition of job-related injuries gets down to a discussion of what workers inhale. The discussion is likely to continue through a good part of this legislative session.

Senator Jack Goodman of Mount Vernon tries to draw a line between what workplace injury or ailment is best covered under the workers compensation program and what injury or ailment is best handled in the civil courts.

One issue is whether the employee knows that there are inherent dangers in the job should be able to sue the employer if those dangers make them ill or lead to their death. Goodman says the workers’ compensation remedy is “adequate” for employees who assume the risks of their jobs.

But Goodman also says workers whose employers knowingly do not keep employees safe should be able to demand compensation outside of the worker’s comp system. He cites a series of lawsuits filed by employees of a southwest Missouri popcorn company who claimed the company allowed substances in the factory air that eventually led to severe lung problems.

The senate continues to work on the bill. The House is taking a different approach. Goodman thinks it will take several weeks to reach compromises on a final bill.

Listen to the floor debate 59:14 mp3

Here are the applicable sections of SB8, which is under discussion in the Senate:

287.067. 1. In this chapter the term “occupational disease” is hereby

2 defined to mean, unless a different meaning is clearly indicated by the context,

3 an identifiable disease arising with or without human fault out of and in the

4 course of the employment. Ordinary diseases of life to which the general public

5 is exposed outside of the employment shall not be compensable, except where the

6 diseases follow as an incident of an occupational disease as defined in this

7 section. The disease need not to have been foreseen or expected but after its

8 contraction it must appear to have had its origin in a risk connected with the

9 employment and to have flowed from that source as a rational consequence.

10 2. An injury by occupational disease is compensable only if the

11 occupational exposure was the prevailing factor in causing both the resulting

12 medical condition and disability. The “prevailing factor” is defined to be the

13 primary factor, in relation to any other factor, causing both the resulting medical

14 condition and disability. Ordinary, gradual deterioration, or progressive

15 degeneration of the body caused by aging or by the normal activities of day-to-day

16 living shall not be compensable.

17 3. An injury due to repetitive motion is recognized as an occupational

18 disease for purposes of this chapter. An occupational disease due to repetitive

19 motion is compensable only if the occupational exposure was the prevailing factor

20 in causing both the resulting medical condition and disability. The “prevailing

21 factor” is defined to be the primary factor, in relation to any other factor, causing

22 both the resulting medical condition and disability. Ordinary, gradual

23 deterioration, or progressive degeneration of the body caused by aging or by the

24 normal activities of day-to-day living shall not be compensable.

25 4. “Loss of hearing due to industrial noise” is recognized as an

26 occupational disease for purposes of this chapter and is hereby defined to be a

27 loss of hearing in one or both ears due to prolonged exposure to harmful noise in

28 employment. “Harmful noise” means sound capable of producing occupational

29 deafness.

30 5. “Radiation disability” is recognized as an occupational disease for

31 purposes of this chapter and is hereby defined to be that disability due to

32 radioactive properties or substances or to Roentgen rays (X-rays) or exposure to

SS SCS SB 8 5

33 ionizing radiation caused by any process involving the use of or direct contact

34 with radium or radioactive properties or substances or the use of or direct

35 exposure to Roentgen rays (X-rays) or ionizing radiation.

36 6. Disease of the lungs or respiratory tract, hypotension, hypertension, or

37 disease of the heart or cardiovascular system, including carcinoma, may be

38 recognized as occupational diseases for the purposes of this chapter and are

39 defined to be disability due to exposure to smoke, gases, carcinogens, inadequate

40 oxygen, of paid firefighters of a paid fire department or paid police officers of a

41 paid police department certified under chapter 590 if a direct causal relationship

42 is established, or psychological stress of firefighters of a paid fire department if

43 a direct causal relationship is established.

44 7. Any employee who is exposed to and contracts any contagious or

45 communicable disease arising out of and in the course of his or her employment

46 shall be eligible for benefits under this chapter as an occupational disease.

47 8. With regard to occupational disease due to repetitive motion, if the

48 exposure to the repetitive motion which is found to be the cause of the injury is

49 for a period of less than three months and the evidence demonstrates that the

50 exposure to the repetitive motion with the immediate prior employer was the

51 prevailing factor in causing the injury, the prior employer shall be liable for such

52 occupational disease.

53 9. A disease related to toxic exposure shall not be recognized as

54 an occupational disease for the purposes of this chapter. For the

55 purposes of this chapter, “toxic exposure” shall mean any prolonged

56 chemical, substance, or material exposure that can cause death,

57 abnormalities, disease, mutations, cancer, deformities, or reproductive

58 malfunctions in a human organism if consumed, inhaled, or absorbed

59 by a human or when otherwise entering the human body in sufficient

60 quantities to do so. The term “toxic exposure” shall not include any

61 injury or disease as described under subsections 4, 5, 6, or 7 of this