Oregon: Governor marks 20th anniversary of workers' comp reforms
"Twenty years ago Oregon's workers' compensation system wasn't working for employees or businesses," he said. "But with determination, leadership and political will, we came together and developed a solution centered on employers and employees with workplace safety at the heart of the system. Now, 20 years later, we celebrate a system that is working and among the best in the nation."
The need for reform became clear in the late 1980s when businesses faced some of the highest workers' comp costs in the country. Injury and illness rates were also among the highest in the country. In an effort to push for reforms and increase workplace safety, a group of 14 labor and business leaders, including Kulongoski who then was serving as the state's insurance commissioner, came together to overhaul the state's comp system.
Twenty years later, employees and businesses are still reaping the benefits. Premium rates have not increased over the last 20 years. A statistic, Kulongoski said, no other state can match. Litigation, the governor noted, is down significantly and hearing requests to the state Workers' Compensation Board have decreased 66 percent since a peak in 1989. Oregon's return-to-work programs assist more than 8,000 workers each year.
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June 10, 2010
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