Senator HolmesSPRINGFIELD – The governor has signed into law Senator Linda Holmes’ (D-Aurora) legislation to expand workers’ compensation for firefighters and EMTs to cover MRSA infection that poses a particularly high risk to first responders.

House Bill 3662 would amend the Workers’ Compensation Act. It presumes that these professionals would be exposed to MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in the course of their employment.

“The job of a firefighter or EMT includes administering up-close care to people who may be MRSA carriers or infected with MRSA,” Holmes said. “This puts first responders at increased risk for MRSA contamination—it’s common sense that a MRSA infection should be covered under workers’ compensation policies.”

The measure is an initiative of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois.

Current workers’ compensation coverage includes blood-borne pathogens, lung and respiratory diseases and conditions, heart and vascular diseases and conditions, hypertension, tuberculosis and cancer.

“MRSA is different from other staph bacteria because it has become resistant to most of the antibiotics doctors use to treat staph infections,” Holmes said. “It’s important we update our policies to make sure we’re protecting first responders from emerging threats to their health and safety on the job.”

House Bill 3662 takes effect immediately.