I was just wondering what peoples thoughts/department SOG's were on wearing bunker gear, ambulance crew/fire crew, on the scene of vehicle accidents. In my department's SOG's it states "Bunker gear is required for personal injury accidents", yet there are some who refuse to wear it when they respond on the squad(ambulance) because they have reflective vests or jackets. Me personally I wear my bunker gear and a refective vest no matter what truck I respond in.
I count 11 people (some are hard to see) without any obvious protection, including proper eye protetion, and only 5 firefighters with bunker gear on. Everyone who is in this picture should be in PPE. This seems crazy to me.
Even dumb asses are covered by work comp.
I know. I handle claims for our company.
It is called "no fault" for that reason.
Is it stupid? Yes. Are you still covered? Yes.
Is it wrong?
You be the judge.
How about hospital-based or 3rd service EMS that don't provide turnout gear - even lightweight extrication gear - to their employees. You can't deny worker's comp claims to employees who are not issued PPE by their employers. Lots of non-fire EMS providers believe that bloodborne pathogens PPE is the only PPE they are legally required to provide.
I personally disagree with this, but this happens all over the U.S.
For example, in the areas where AMR provides EMS, I only know of one of their divisions that provides crash gear to their employees and several of their other divisions that don't. Yet AMR works probably hundreds of wrecks per day around the country.
How do you reconcile this with the "No PPE, no worker's comp" statements?
According to the non-fire EMS employers, if the medics/EMTs were wearing exam gloves, they had their PPE on.
I have spent half of my adult life dealing with OSHA regs. I just recently completed the 30 hour class...AGAIN. This is the 3rd time that I have taken it over the years.
With regards to PPE, the law is very clear and that is: the employer is required to provide proper PPE to protect their employees against any foreseeable hazard. If a medic is at an accident and they might be required to get inside the vehicle to stabilize a patient, then the proper PPE must be provided and worn.
There is also the 5a (1) clause that basically says that "an employer with provide a safe and healthful workplace, free of recognizable hazards". So, if they don't get you on the PPE gig, they will damn sure get you on the 5a (1) clause.
Now; granted that's OSHA.
Workers' comp or a comparable insurance plan must be provided for all workers in all 50 states. You can get into a state pool, be self insured or be insured by a company that specializes in work comp.
With work comp, about the only thing that I know of that would "disqualify" you from collecting is a self inflicted injury, such as getting mad, hitting a wall at work and breaking your hand. You could be denied for this. But, if you aren't wearing PPE? Even though you might have violated a company rule and an OSHA reg, you would still be awarded work comp benefits.
I hope this helps clarify it.
The issue here is how "proper PPE" is defined. OSHA generally defines "proper' PPE at a non-fire car wreck as bloodborne pathogens universal precautions. That includes turnouts, but doesn't necessarily exclude other clothing.
Another OSHA technical detain I stumbled across in the past - OSHA's general duty clause defines the employee's right to a safe "workplace". How is "workplace" defined for EMS personnel? In some states including mine, it is defined as the patient compartment of the ambulance. Strange as it may seem, the hot zone of a wreck scene may not be included in the EMS personnel's "workplace", at least for OSHA PPE purposes. And...if there's no fire, which is demonstrably the case at most wrecks - then it is pretty easy for the non-fire EMS agencies to argue successfully that bloodborne pathogens is the primary hazard, and that exam gloves and traffic vests may be all of the "proper" PPE that is required.
We can't just say "proper PPE" and assume that it means the same thing to everyone on every wreck. It doesn't...even to some state OSHA agencies.
Extrication is a specialty call type. That's why we should be wearing extrication PPE unless a vehicle is on fire, and even then one engine company in turnouts is generally adequate to extinguish the fire.
Most insurance companies that provide coverage for fire companies require that you wear your TOG on every incident. This means you should contact them and find out what there recomendations are because if you are not in compliance with them you may not be covered and the OIC will be in trouble if an injury occurs to a FF not wearing the right PPE, suggest Extrication Suits for the ones not comfortable in TOG.
Do you have any evidence to support your initial statement? I'd like to see some kind of documentation that even a few insurance companies require that firefighters wear turnout gear on "every incident".
If your statement is accurate, it indicates that we should be wearing turnout gear to structural collapses, trench rescues, and water rescues. All of those are clearly calls where turnout gear is wildly inappropriate.
Wearing turnout gear on "every incident" isn't appropriate, smart, or actually required if you find out what the insurance industry really wants to see.
As covered previously in this discussion, if your department participates in a worker's compensation program, your firefighters will be covered for LOD injuries, even if they were engaging in blatantly stupid acts and/or omissions.
And...I'd suggest extrication suits for everyone doing extrication, because they're not as heat stressful as turnout gear and less heat stress is good for firefighter health and safety.
The wording is more along the lines of "an adequate level of protective equipment must be worn on fire scenes PER FD SOP's.
Can you name 1 case where a firefighter didn't have all their gear on and was denied medical care covered by the fd's insurance?
Insurance agencies generally suggest guidelines that are there to supplement the FD's SOP's which oversee the fire scenes. They have a few requirements for driving, and age to join but the limitations are generally worded around the sop's we are supposed to have in place.
When have you ever known insurance companies to be THAT specific?
Ambiguity is how they make their money.
They might describe in general terms what SHOULD be worn, but they won't nail it down for fear that it will create some sort of loophole.