Washington State’s Secretary of State has certified Initiative 1082 that would open the workers’ compensation insurance market in that state to private insurance. The Initiative would also eliminate the portion of the premium paid by workers (a feature that may have attracted some workers to sign on to the petition). While 18% of a sample of the signatures in support of the initiative being placed on the ballot were ruled inadmissible, the required minimum of valid signatures was achieved so the provision will be on the ballot in November.
Arizona’s governor signed into law a provision that will take the Arizona State Compensation Fund from a public competitive state fund to a private entity. It currently has about a third of the market in that state. The move will allow the new entity to expand operations into other states.
Alberta’s Employment Minister, Thomas Lukaszuk, announced his department will post safety records of all companies in Alberta. What exactly will be posted has not been revealed but speculation in the media suggests workers’ compensation lost-time claim data (presumably counts and dollars) will be part of what is published. The move is intended to improve safety for workers in that province. Press reports attribute the following statement to the Minister:
"Today is a new day for occupational health and safety in the province of Alberta. This is the day when status quo is no longer acceptable. The hammer is coming down on those who persistently fail to comply with safety laws.”
Tennessee proposed a law that would require all construction service providers to be included in the scope of coverage unless specifically exempted—a procedure that is open to certain sole proprietors and others but with a catch: the firm must be registered and the exemption must be applied for (subject to fees) before an exemption card good for two years is issued.
President Obama has taken aim at the safety and return to work performance of federal agencies and executive departments. Under the acronym POWER (Protecting Our Workers and Ensuring Reemployment) departments are expected by
• Reducing total injury and illness case rates
• Reducing lost-time injuries
• Analyzing lost-time injury and illness data
• Increasing the timely filing of workers’ comp claims
• Increasing the timely filing of wage-loss claims
• Reducing lost production day rates
• Speeding return-to-work in cases of serious injury or illness
Vermont has increased the penalties for firms who are required to register and carry workers’ compensation coverage but fail to do so. Such firms will now be required to close immediately and a fine of $250 per day issued until they are in compliance.
I'm always interested in unique developments in workers' compensation and prevention. Feel free to send any you come across to me. As always, if you have any comments or insights, leave a post and add to the blog.