This session at the 2016 California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference analyzed the latest federal workers’ compensation trends and their impact on employers.
- Gregory McKenna, VP & Counsel Governmental Affairs, Gallagher Bassett
- Robert Cartwright, Jr., Safety and Health Regional Manager, Bridgestone Retail Operations
OSHA’s Electronic Reporting Regulations
OSHA recently issued a final reporting rule to “improve tracking of workplace injuries and illnesses.” OSHA says they intend to use this to gather more data about employer conduct, however employers are leery. Why is there increased federal involvement with state workers’ compensation? Many employers believe this will lead to employer shaming or potential prejudice due to public visibility into alleged work-related incidents. OSHA has issued anti-retaliation provisions, with a delayed effective date, to address the fear of freedom to file workers’ compensation claims without fear of adverse employment action.
Labor: Workers’ Compensation Oversight
Lawmakers are seeking federal ‘oversight’ of workers’ compensation as states limit benefits. 33 states have reduced state workers’ compensation benefits, causing the ‘grand bargain’ to be put under question, and articles like those from Pro-Publica have put a negative spotlight on the industry. From the industry’s perspective, the workers’ compensation program is over 100 years old and does need some changes, but federal oversight is not that method in which to improve. The industry needs to band together to create reform that reflects the cultural, social and economic realities of today and, ultimately, determine how best to care for the injured worker. This also includes determining how to create safety measures to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.
The DEA has denied petitions to reschedule marijuana but will authorize more marijuana manufacturing to foster research. Many injured workers believe marijuana can be a viable alternative to the modality for pain, often preferable to opioids. Employers want this medical proof, however, they are not inclined to violate federal law and most still want to enforce a drug-free workplace. Employers also want to see more-refined testing methods because there is currently no effective way to test impairment. It is important to note that congress could overrule the DEA if they pass legislation and the speakers expect to see movement around these laws in the near future.
Congress: Cyber Security Breach Legislation
Reps. Burgess, Blackburn and Welch released a debatable data breach bill. Anytime there is an issue on how we regulate how to handle issues within a state, there are 50 different ways to interpret how we handle an issue. Employers with locations in different states want one standard. If we do not get this legislation in front of the right people, it could get very costly for employers. The industry is pushing for legislation that stressing uniformity and allows for a baseline level of reporting. Risk managers want certainty and expediency. That will only come with a nationwide standard.