112.181 Firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, correctional officers; special provisions relative to certain communicable diseases.—
(1) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Body fluids” means blood and body fluids containing visible blood and other body fluids to which universal precautions for prevention of occupational transmission of blood-borne pathogens, as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, apply. For purposes of potential transmission of meningococcal meningitis or tuberculosis, the term “body fluids” includes respiratory, salivary, and sinus fluids, including droplets, sputum, and saliva, mucous, and other fluids through which infectious airborne organisms can be transmitted between persons.
(b) “Emergency rescue or public safety worker” means any person employed full time by the state or any political subdivision of the state as a firefighter, paramedic, emergency medical technician, law enforcement officer, or correctional officer who, in the course of employment, runs a high risk of occupational exposure to hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis and who is not employed elsewhere in a similar capacity. However, the term “emergency rescue or public safety worker” does not include any person employed by a public hospital licensed under chapter 395 or any person employed by a subsidiary thereof.
(c) “Hepatitis” means hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis non-A, hepatitis non-B, hepatitis C, or any other strain of hepatitis generally recognized by the medical community.
(d) “High risk of occupational exposure” means that risk that is incurred because a person subject to the provisions of this section, in performing the basic duties associated with his or her employment:
1. Provides emergency medical treatment in a non-health-care setting where there is a potential for transfer of body fluids between persons;
2. At the site of an accident, fire, or other rescue or public safety operation, or in an emergency rescue or public safety vehicle, handles body fluids in or out of containers or works with or otherwise handles needles or other sharp instruments exposed to body fluids;
3. Engages in the pursuit, apprehension, and arrest of law violators or suspected law violators and, in performing such duties, may be exposed to body fluids; or
4. Is responsible for the custody, and physical restraint when necessary, of prisoners or inmates within a prison, jail, or other criminal detention facility, while on work detail outside the facility, or while being transported and, in performing such duties, may be exposed to body fluids.
(e) “Occupational exposure,” in the case of hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis, means an exposure that occurs during the performance of job duties that may place a worker at risk of infection.
(2) PRESUMPTION; ELIGIBILITY CONDITIONS.—Any emergency rescue or public safety worker who suffers a condition or impairment of health that is caused by hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis, that requires medical treatment, and that results in total or partial disability or death shall be presumed to have a disability suffered in the line of duty, unless the contrary is shown by competent evidence; however, in order to be entitled to the presumption, the emergency rescue or public safety worker must, by written affidavit as provided in s. 92.50, verify by written declaration that, to the best of his or her knowledge and belief:
(a) In the case of a medical condition caused by or derived from hepatitis, he or she has not:
1. Been exposed, through transfer of bodily fluids, to any person known to have sickness or medical conditions derived from hepatitis, outside the scope of his or her employment;
2. Had a transfusion of blood or blood components, other than a transfusion arising out of an accident or injury happening in connection with his or her present employment, or received any blood products for the treatment of a coagulation disorder since last undergoing medical tests for hepatitis, which tests failed to indicate the presence of hepatitis;
3. Engaged in unsafe sexual practices or other high-risk behavior, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Surgeon General of the United States, or had sexual relations with a person known to him or her to have engaged in such unsafe sexual practices or other high-risk behavior; or
4. Used intravenous drugs not prescribed by a physician.
(b) In the case of meningococcal meningitis, in the 10 days immediately preceding diagnosis he or she was not exposed, outside the scope of his or her employment, to any person known to have meningococcal meningitis or known to be an asymptomatic carrier of the disease.
(c) In the case of tuberculosis, in the period of time since the worker’s last negative tuberculosis skin test, he or she has not been exposed, outside the scope of his or her employment, to any person known by him or her to have tuberculosis.
(3) IMMUNIZATION.—Whenever any standard, medically recognized vaccine or other form of immunization or prophylaxis exists for the prevention of a communicable disease for which a presumption is granted under this section, if medically indicated in the given circumstances pursuant to immunization policies established by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Public Health Service, an emergency rescue or public safety worker may be required by his or her employer to undergo the immunization or prophylaxis unless the worker’s physician determines in writing that the immunization or other prophylaxis would pose a significant risk to the worker’s health. Absent such written declaration, failure or refusal by an emergency rescue or public safety worker to undergo such immunization or prophylaxis disqualifies the worker from the benefits of the presumption.
(4) LIFE AND DISABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE.—This section does not apply to benefits payable under or granted in a noncompulsory policy of life insurance or disability insurance, unless the insurer and insured have negotiated for such additional benefits to be included in the policy contract. However, the state or any political subdivision of the state may negotiate a policy contract for life and disability insurance which includes accidental death benefits or double indemnity coverage for any condition or impairment of health suffered by an emergency rescue or public safety worker, which condition or impairment is caused by a disease described in this section and results in total or partial disability or death.
(5) RECORD OF EXPOSURES.—The employing agency shall maintain a record of any known or reasonably suspected exposure of an emergency rescue or public safety worker in its employ to the diseases described in this section and shall immediately notify the employee of such exposure. An emergency rescue or public safety worker shall file an incident or accident report with his or her employer of each instance of known or suspected occupational exposure to hepatitis infection, meningococcal meningitis, or tuberculosis.
(6) REQUIRED MEDICAL TESTS; PREEMPLOYMENT PHYSICAL.—In order to be entitled to the presumption provided by this section:
(a) An emergency rescue or public safety worker must, prior to diagnosis, have undergone standard, medically acceptable tests for evidence of the communicable disease for which the presumption is sought, or evidence of medical conditions derived therefrom, which tests fail to indicate the presence of infection. This paragraph does not apply in the case of meningococcal meningitis.
(b) On or after June 15, 1995, an emergency rescue or public safety worker may be required to undergo a preemployment physical examination that tests for and fails to reveal any evidence of hepatitis or tuberculosis.
(7) DISABILITY RETIREMENT.—This section does not change the basic requirements for determining eligibility for disability retirement benefits under the Florida Retirement System or any pension plan administered by this state or any political subdivision thereof, except to the extent of affecting the determination as to whether a member was disabled in the line of duty or was otherwise disabled.
History.—s. 2, ch. 95-285; s. 2, ch. 96-198; s. 25, ch. 97-95; s. 26, ch. 97-96.