SMALL VICTORY FOR INJURED WORKERS
Even in the midst of workers’ compensation reform that looks to be detrimental to injured workers, 2012 has also netted a victory. A.B. 1145 has been passed and that is good news for injured workers.
The passage of this legislation that was carried by Voters Injured at Work allows an injured worker to access the training voucher as soon as his doctor determines his condition as permanent and stationary. Previously, an injured worker had to wait until a final disability rating determination and now this process has been sped up. Also, the uses for the voucher have been modified to include tools for education and training programs as well as for computers. These things will allow injured workers to acquire re-training much more quickly and allow them to return to the workforce faster with better skills.
The voucher will be a flat amount of $6,000 for qualifying expenses, irrespective of the permanent partial disability. Also, the timeframe for eligibility is commenced until the employer has received the medical report of disability as opposed to occurring after the termination of temporary disability benefits. If an employer makes an injured worker a job offer, the bill will ensure that the injured worker’s doctor is involved in the decision-making process to determine if he or she can return to work.
Voters Injured at Work will continue to work on legislative language to benefit injured workers during the last months of 2012 and into 2013 and beyond. California needs to heal and help its injured workers and VIAW will not cease to continue the battle to save and re-acquire injured workers’ rights that should not have been taken in 2004 or in 2012.
WHAT DOES THE ENACTING OF S.B. 863 MEAN FOR THE INJURED WORKER?
The passage of S.B. 863 by both sides of Capitol on August 31 was a blow to injured workers across California. In what seemed like a dead monster come back to life the bill was resurrected through the lobbying of Governor Brown of legislators of both parties. The bill represented the thorough legislation that Governor Brown sought since he spoke of approving any workers’ compensation reform since the beginning of this most recent term as governor of California. For Governor Brown this bill is the complete overhaul of the ailing California workers’ compensation system and will allegedly help small businesses and injured workers.
The most damaging aspects of the bill for injured workers, according to legal analysts,
are that there will be a benefits decrease; lengthy delays in permanent disability benefits; delay and denial of access to medical care; interpreters will be put out of business and monolingual injured workers will not have access to them.
Injured workers will have their constitutional rights taken but not allowing them to choose their own medical providers and forcing them to see doctors sanctioned by their employers and insurance companies. If an injured worker does not agree with treatment protocol or has any issue with medical treatment the only recourse is an appeal via an insurance company who will strictly review medical documents and not rely on the testimony of the injured worker. Any final appeals will be decided by out-of-state doctors (an IMR) who will maintain anonymity and never hear from the injured worker. And most damaging is that there is no recourse to appeal after or a right to trial for medical treatment denials or abuse.
These are but a few of the issues and what is to come may be worse. The effects of S.B. 863 will not be truly known until it is implemented in 2013, and the Division of Industrial Relations has much work to do before this occurs.
FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES DECLINED IN 2011
According to a study on fatal occupational injuries, the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Census concluded that there were 4,609 deaths in 2011 which was slightly lower than in 2010 when there were 4,690 deaths. For 2011 that means an average of 13 worker deaths per day.
Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis stated that it was a “step in the right direction” but that there was a way to go to ensure the safety of all workers and the Department of Labor will continue collaborations with workers, employers, safety and health personnel as well as with labor leaders.
Solis added, “At the Labor Department, we take these challenges very seriously. Each and every one of us is committed to doing what we can so that every worker can return home at the end of the day in the same condition he or she left. The workers of our nation deserve nothing less.”
(Source: Department of Labor)
THE BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
Next time that wave of anxiousness and stress is upon you maybe you should consider taking a deep breath and clearing your mind. Focusing on the breath will help to bring you back to a space of calm and tranquility.
Meditation can take different forms and it can be done anywhere and at any time with no special equipment. Though meditation has roots in spiritual traditions it is used to center one’s mind and let go of the conflicting thoughts and emotions clogging your mind and body. By discarding these thoughts and emotions the body comes to a peaceful and quiet state and the person may experience an improved physical state immediately afterward.
Continued use of meditation techniques will enhance one’s sense of balance and help them to cope with worrisome situations. Some of the benefits include:
A new perspective of a situation
Creating a foundation to help manage stress
An increased self-awareness
Connecting with the present
A reduction of harmful emotions
It is best to discuss what type of meditation will work best for you and a doctor is the best person to consult before commencing your foray into meditation. There are many types of meditation and there is one to suit you. Some of these methods are:
No matter what type of meditation method you choose the outcome is one where you are calmer and much more free of mental anguish and distress.
*VIAW and its employees do not make medical claims and these tips should not be taken as such.