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Legislation may lead to comp, safety changes in many states

Posted On: Jan. 2, 2020 1:02 PM CST

workers compensation

Legislation prefiled in multiple states could lead to changes in workers compensation and workplace safety in 2020.

On Jan. 8, New Hampshire Sen. Dan Feltes, D-District 15, will introduce S.B. 451, which proposes to establish administrative hearing procedures and penalties for employers who fail to secure workers comp coverage. The bill would subject employers found to be without workers comp to an immediate stop work order and fines.

A second prefiled bill would raise penalties for employers who refuse to cooperate with auditing requirements of their workers compensation policies. S.B. 418, prefiled by Sen. Ken Cavanaugh, D-District 16, and Rep. Christy Bartlett, D-Merrimack County, proposes to increase penalties for noncooperation to three times the estimated workers comp premium.

In Washington State, Sen. Karen Keiser, D-District 33, prefiled a bill Tuesday that would make staffing agencies who provide temporary workers to visit worksites to review health and safety practices and provide free specific hazard training before the temporary worker can begin work. S.B. 6122 would also require the state’s Department of Labor and Industries to review industrial injury claims for staffing agencies in for the past three years and provide a report to the legislature by Dec. 1, 2020, regarding findings and a recommendation for a shared industrial premium between staffing agencies and worksite employers “so that worksite employers also have some experience rating impact from claims on their worksites by staffing agencies' employees.”

In Virginia, Delegate Roslyn Tyler, D-District 75, prefiled a bill to expand occupational disease presumption laws in the state. Current state law presumes that a first responder who has been exposed to blood or bodily fluids on the job and tests positive for hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis or HIV was presumed to have acquired the disease from the occupational exposure. H.B. 169 would expand that coverage to corrections officers.

Florida and Oklahoma lawmakers prefiled legislation that would make modifications to comp funding. In Oklahoma, S.B. 1093 would remove requirement that $1 million be transferred from the state’s Multiple Injury Trust Fund each July exclusively for state Occupational Health and Safety Standards Act enforcement. Florida’s H.B. 1049, would provide an additional $1.5 million in compensation judges of compensation claims.

In Missouri, H.B. 1888 proposes staggering terms for administrative law judges, eventually making all appointments six years in length. The legislation would appoint the 13 current longest-serving judges to two-year terms, the next longest-serving 13 for four-year terms, and the remainder for six years, which would be the cap on term length going forward. The bill also includes language to allow for the removal of administrative law judges by the division director for gross inefficiency, incapacity, neglect of duties, malfeasance, misfeasance, incompetence or any other offense “involving moral turpitude or oppression in office.”