Stewart Jaffy’s Testimony Against Benefits Reduction Bill
On March 6, 1997, the first day of opponent testimony to S.B. 45 — the workers’ compensation benefits reduction legislation — Stewart Jaffy, General Counsel for the Ohio AFL-CIO, criticized the proposed legislation for failing to address in any way safety problems, rehabilitation issues and oversight of self-insuring companies.
For example, trench cave-ins continue to occur even though everybody in the business knows the trench should be shored. The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation does nothing to stop the recurrence. Violations of Ohio safety codes recur and the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation plays no role in stopping reoccurrence.
The two state agencies dealing with rehabilitation, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the Rehabilitation Services Commission, do not cooperate with each other on rehabilitation. Many self-insurer seem to have stopped offering rehabilitation after the 1993 legislation gave them an opt-out provision on payment. The opt-out was on method of payment. It did not permit the self-insurer to stop offering rehabilitation.
Mr. Jaffy also criticized the proposed legislation because of the many hidden ways it reduces benefits to injured Ohioans.
Definitional changes will reduce occupational disease claims. If you have excluded people from benefits for their industrially caused disease, you have done a disservice to injured Ohioans.
The exclusion of diseases because a disease may occur from non-industrial causes, is an arbitrary legal limitation where medically it can be shown the disease came from the work. Many unfortunate people get carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) from repetitive work involving the hands. CTS may be brought on by diabetes or occur in pregnant women. Because CTS can occur outside the workplace, it would be excluded from coverage under the proposed law. Is that fair?
This bill is no way to treat Ohio workers.