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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.—The Missouri Senate passed a bill Thursday that would make workers compensation the exclusive remedy for occupational illnesses, among other revisions to the state's workers comp law.
State senators voted 26-8 in favor of Senate Bill 572, which was introduced last month by Republican State Sen. Tom Dempsey. The bill would require occupational diseases to be covered solely by workers comp, except in cases of toxic exposure to chemicals, radiation and other substances caused by a third party.
A separate clause says an employee's co-workers can't be sued for workplace injuries or deaths that would be covered by workers comp, excluding cases of negligence.
In a statement Thursday, Sen. Dempsey said the bill intends to close loopholes that allowed Missouri workers to bypass the workers comp system and file liability lawsuits for their injuries.
“Co-workers, most of whom do not have insurance when it comes to covering their role in workplace accidents, should not be open to lawsuits as a secondary slush fund for those injured on the job,” the statement reads. “The responsibility should begin and end with the employer and the workers compensation system.”
The bill is being considered by the Missouri House of Representatives.