Among its provisions was a move of occupational disease coverage under the workers' comp system, rather than allowing lawsuits over these claims. Nixon noted that existing law allows workers suffering from work-related occupational diseases to seek redress by bringing a civil action against their employer, including workers who suffer from "serious and deadly" diseases such as mesothelioma and cardiopulmonary disease involving long-term workplace exposure to toxic substances.
"Taking this right away from workers suffering from serious and deadly occupational diseases ... is not acceptable," Nixon said.
The bill also would have prohibited injured workers from suing their coworkers for their occupational injuries. A final provision would have stated that all administrative remedies must be exhausted before civil actions involving injury or death filed by the employee could move forward.
"It is worth noting that both employers and employees have a shared interest in a timely and efficient disposition of claims," the governor said. "It is questionable whether holding a civil action in abeyance pending exhaustion of all administrative remedies -- terms that, moreover, are not defined in the bill -- furthers those goals. Procedural requirements should foster an efficient and equitable resolution for all parties."
The legislature passed the bill before taking its spring recess. There was speculation the issue could come up again before the Legislature adjourns in May.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 16, 2012
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