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(c) 2014 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Workers Compensation Takes a Bigger Bite Out of the Big Apple

The Workers' Compensation costs for the City of New York are trending upward while the number of cases are declining. In its latest yearly report on Workers Compensation costs it was revealed that in 2009 $12.9 Million were paid out to injured workers in 14,430 cases. Uniformed employees, ie. fire and police, are not covered under the workers' compensation.


Click here to read more about workers' compensation and claims for benefits. For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related illnesses.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lung Cancer Risk High Despite Absence of Asbestosis Diagnosis

This is an x-ray image of a chest. Both sides ...

Asbestos workers continue to have a higher risk for lung cancer even if asbestos findings are not present on x-ray. A recent report in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine concludes, "Workers from an Ontario asbestos-cement factory who did not have radiographic asbestosis at 20 or 25 years from first exposure to asbestos continued to have an increased risk of death from lung cancer during an additional 12 years of follow-up." 


Click here to read more about workers' compensation and claims for benefits. For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related illnesses.

Getting the Right Count on Injured Workers--Self-Reporting

Logo of the Centers for Disease Control and Pr...
The massive underreporting of occupational injuries and illness has been a major focus of concern in the evaluation of the true efficiency of the present patch work of State workers' compensation programs. A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the feasibility of complementing existing occupational injury surveillance through the use of population-based surveys.


The report concludes that, "....additional research is needed to understand the reasons for nonpayment of worker-reported occupational injuries by workers' compensation insurance programs."  The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) is a non-employer based data reporting system.


Click here to read the report.


Click here to read more about workers' compensation and claims for benefits. For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman 1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related illnesses.

Friday, July 23, 2010

New Jersey Task Force Recommends Privatization of Workers Compensation

A NJ Task Force has recommended to Governor Chris Christie that workers' compensation should be privatized in the State. The Task Force looked to the West Virginia system in making its recommendation.


"West Virginia Governor Joseph Manchin signed a law in 2005 fully privatizing the state's Workers' Compensation Commission, transforming it into a private insurance carrier, BrickStreet Insurance. Since the completion of the process in 2008, workers' compensation rates have declined an average of 30 percent statewide, translating to more than $150 million in annual employer savings. BrickStreet—formerly the state monopoly—is now competing for business in other states."

The State of New Jersey, like other major industrial states, is suffering from major economic deficits that have resulted n curtailed state services including the furlough of Workers' Compensation staffs and closing of offices. The state's financial woes are mirrored in the local municipalities and it is anticipated that those governmental entities will also follow the State's lead to jettison the administration of workers' compensation programs. In california some localities have gone even further and privatized their staffs to lower costs.

Click here to read the complete report.

Click here to read more about workers' compensation and claims for benefits. For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related illnesses.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Report Urges Worldwide Ban on Asbestos as Fatal Dangers Continues


Corporate greed resulting in the loss of life is the conclusion of a major investigative report just published concerning the worldwide asbestos trade and global epidemic of disease. The report, strongly urging the rationale for a worldwide ban of asbestos, has been published in print simultaneously with the release of a series of audio broadcasts.


The investigative reports have been published by The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) based on the investigative reporting of  the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC)  joint venture with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists


Jim Morris of CPI reports, "A global network of lobby groups has spent nearly $100 million since the mid-1980s to preserve the market for asbestos, a carcinogen now banned or restricted in 52 countries. Scientists say asbestos may cause up to 10 million deaths by 2030, with a mounting toll in the developing world."

Asbestos, for decades, has been linked to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma remains an incurable and fatal disease. 



Asbestos contamination remains an international problem. Recent reports indicate that US military troops have been exposed to asbestos in Iraq and Afghanistan through indiscriminate use of burn pits by military contractors. 


When the original 1911 workers ' compensation statutes were amended to cover occupational illnesses and diseases, the workers' compensation system in the United States was  overwhelmed with cases involving asbestos exposure and malignancies including mesothelioma. 


The concentration of asbestos manufacturing plants  along the east and west coasts where the shipyards and manufacturing was located quickly created clusters of cases in those jurisidctions. The state of New Jersey has a history of being a heavily industrialized state with a huge legacy of pollution from asbestos to petrochemical. Dr. Irving J. Selikoff, of Paterson, NJ, began his landmark studies on asbestos workers in New Jersey. In 1911, almost a century ago, NJ adopted an administrative system known as workers' compensation and it was the intent of the Legislature to provide a speedy and cost effective system of delivering statutorily defined benefits to injured workers while passing the costs onto the consumers of products and services.


Soon the compensation system with its limited administrative resources and its limited benefits gave way to the use of the civil justice system for direct actions against asbestos manufacturers, suppliers and health research organizations. Asbestos litigation has been deemed to be "the longest running tort" in the history of the US justice system.


The problem of the delivery of medical care to asbestos victims remains a serious issue as the insurance industry continues to make the road for medical care more difficult to navigate and obtain. A new occupational healthcare program with the potential of being the most extensive, effective and innovated system even enacted for the delivery of medical to injured workers was recently enacted into law. The initial project for the provision of federalized medical care was initiated in Libby Montana the site of a former asbestos manufacturer.


Click here to read more about asbestos related disease and claims for benefits. For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related illnesses.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Is the Cosmetic Industry the Next Tobacco or Asbestos?


The health dangers emanating from the unregulated cosmetic industry are becoming more apparent and more tragic. The serious health consequences of exposures flowing from the cosmetic industry may generate the next wave of mass tort litigation based on the predictability of emerging workers' compensation trends. 


Within the past few weeks, the carcinogenic properties of sunscreen products, which are advertised to inhibit cancer, have been reported to possibly causing it themselves. The generic and plan properties of the sun screens have been polluted by the carcinogenic properties of fragrances that have been reported to cause cancer themselves.


The Safe Cosmetics Act, now under consideration by Congress, will help protect workers' health.  The proposed legislation would establish a Center for Postmarket Drug Safety and Effectiveness.


Additionally,  The Protection America's Workers Act provides additional safeguards to workers. Thhe proposed legislation will:


*Expand workplace protections to state, county, municipal, and federal
employees who are not currently covered by the Occupational Safety and
Health Act

* Increase financial penalties for those who kill or endanger workers

* Strengthen criminal penalties to make felony charges available
for willful negligence causing death or serious injury

* Expand OSHA coverage to millions of employees who fall through
the cracks (like airline and railroad workers)

* Provide protection for whistleblowers

* Give employees the right to refuse hazardous work that may kill them

* Improve the rights of workers and families, requiring OSHA to
investigate all cases of death

* Prohibit employers from discouraging reporting of injury or illness

The
Cosmetics industry has far too long relied upon a self-insurance schema and a lobbying effort  to protect its fortunes and not its workers. Emerging litigation in the workers' compensation arena traditionally explodes into mass torts. This has been the historical pattern evidenced by asbestos, tobacco and latex. The initial claims have already been successfully prosecuted for injured workers exposed to fragrances. Hopefully the next wave can be avoided and quick government regulation of the cosmetic and fragrance industry can avoid the inevitable and the workplace can be made safer.


Click here to read more about cosmetics and fragrances and workers compensation.


Click here for more information on how Jon L Gelman can assist you in a claim for workers' Compensation claim benefits. You may e-mail Jon  Gelman or call 1-973-696-7900.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

How to Register for the NIOSH Oil Spill Workers Voluntary Roster for Health Monitoring


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is developing a voluntary roster of response workers to create a record of those who have participated in cleanup activities and a mechanism to contact them about possible work-related symptoms of illness or injury, as needed. The Unified Command and BP support the roster and the goal of identifying all workers, including volunteers, involved in all response/cleanup activities. Workers have the opportunity to be rostered during training and at established staging areas (locations to which trained workers report for duty each day) in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. NIOSH also is rostering response workers online through a secure web site. NIOSH has provided the secure link to multiple federal agencies and BP, and has asked them to refer workers to the web site to complete the rostering form electronically.

As of July 15, 2010 over 38,778 workers have registered on the NIOSH roster.

NIOSH has requested that all cleanup workers and volunteers register for the following reasons:

"We know that workers may be potentially exposed to things in an oil spill cleanup: such as oils, volatile organic compounds, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, diesel fumes, heat, noise, and heavy lifting.

"We know that training will help provide information to workers about these exposures, and we are interested in what training workers receive.

"We want to gather information from workers involved in cleanup, so that after cleanup is over, we can see if workers experienced any symptoms related to the oil spill work. Oil spill exposures may cause some workers to experience symptoms like skin rash, throat irritation and cough, and back pain. We do not know if these symptoms will occur or if they do, what will be the extent of these symptoms. We want to learn as much as we can in order to reduce symptoms now and in the future.

"Documenting symptoms in this incident may provide information that NIOSH can use to protect the health of workers in this clean up and in future clean-up efforts.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Comp Maybe Going Viral in Florida Over Dengue Fever


The Workers' Compensation in Florida may be in for yet another assault of claims as dengue virus rages from Ket West spreading north.  The Centers for Disease Control has now issued yet another report and alert concerning this wide spread viral condition. 
Viruses have, historically,  been a problematic challenge to the Workers' Compensation systems. Last flu season the government Federalized the flu compensation program. As this virus spreads, especially with the challenge of the Gulf Oil spill on the compensation system, the State of Florida will need to gear up to operationalize a response.
An estimated 5 percent of the Key West, Fla., population—over 1,000 people—showed evidence of recent exposure to dengue virus in 2009, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Florida Department of Health.
After three initial locally acquired cases of dengue were reported in 2009, scientists from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health conducted a study to estimate the potential exposure of the Key West population to dengue virus.
Dengue is the most common virus transmitted by mosquitoes in the world. It causes an estimated 50 million-100 million infections and 25,000 deaths each year. From 1946 to 1980, no cases of dengue acquired in the continental United States were reported, and there has not been an outbreak in Florida since 1934.
"We're concerned that if dengue gains a foothold in Key West, it will travel to other southern cities where the mosquito that transmits dengue is present, like Miami," said Harold Margolis, chief of the dengue branch at CDC. "The mosquito that transmits dengue likes to bite in and around houses, during the day and at night when the lights are on. To protect you and your family, CDC recommends using repellent on your skin while indoors or out. And when possible, wear long sleeves and pants for additional protection."
Since 1980, a few locally acquired U.S. cases have been confirmed along the Texas-Mexico border, which coincided with large outbreaks in neighboring Mexican cities. In recent years, there has been an increase in epidemic dengue in the tropics and subtropics, including Puerto Rico.
"These cases represent the reemergence of dengue fever in Florida and elsewhere in the United States after 75 years," Margolis said. "These people had not travelled outside of Florida, so we need to determine if these cases are an isolated occurrence or if dengue has once again become endemic in the continental United States."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Synchronizing Federal Care for Oil Spill Workers



The need for coordination of Federal benefits for oil spill workers is now becoming a major concern. It is becoming more apparent, by the day, that the State programs are now stretched beyond their limits to respond to the crisis. As The Path To Federalization expands, this debate will expand.


A recent study by the Center for American Progress addresses these concerns.


"Health threats from the oil spill may linger unseen, perhaps for more than a generation. And we will not be fully prepared to address the public health problems that arise in the future unless there is an effective and coordinated handover of responsibilities for protecting public health from the emergency response agencies to agencies with the capability and capacity for long-term monitoring and management. Federal agencies have been pulled in as needed in the gulf spill response, but it’s not clear that the Health and Human Services response has been synchronized from the top to ensure effective delivery and coordination."


"In short, the spill reiterates why we need to better manage the short- and longterm responses required to address the public health threats such disasters pose whether they are manmade or due to natural causes."

3d Circuit Denies SSDI Claim Where Work Comp Claims Alleged to be a Stressor

The US 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals denied a claim for Social Security Disability Benefits where the claimant alleged that his workers' compensation claim was as stressor and the anxiety caused him to become totally and permanently disabled.

Wright v. Commissioner of Social Security, 2010 WL 2676382 (3rd Cir.(Pa.))



Asbestos Manufacturer Circor - Leslie Files for Bankruptcy Protection


Circor International, Inc. (NYSE: CIR) today announced a major development in its effort to stem mounting asbestos litigation costs and resolve asbestos liability claims at its Leslie Controls, Inc. subsidiary.

Leslie today filed a pre-negotiated plan of reorganization as a voluntary petition under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. Supported by a committee of attorneys representing current asbestos claimants and a proposed independent representative of future claimants, the plan is intended to permanently resolve Leslie’s asbestos liability through the creation of a trust pursuant to Section 524(g) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. All current and future asbestos claims against Leslie would be channeled to the trust for review and payment, thus providing both Leslie and CIRCOR with permanent court protection from such claims.
“Because we strongly believe that exposure to Leslie’s products has not caused any asbestos-related illness, our strategy has been to vigorously defend these claims,” said CIRCOR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Higgins. “However, the cost of this defense has exceeded the profits generated by Leslie’s operations, and we have been considering for some time a range of strategic alternatives that would enable us to permanently eliminate this expense and risk. Resolving Leslie’s asbestos liability through a pre-negotiated plan of reorganization accomplishes that aim, while preserving the value of a strong and viable business.”

Asbestos is a known cancer causing agent and has been linked to asbestosis and mesothelioma.

“We believe that a 524(g) trust that equitably resolves all pending and future claims and provides CIRCOR with permanent protection from derivative claims is in the best interest of all our stakeholders, including CIRCOR’s shareholders and Leslie’s customers, suppliers and employees,” Higgins continued. “Unencumbered by financial and legal exposure to asbestos liability, Leslie will be positioned to grow and contribute to CIRCOR’s profitability and cash flow going forward.”


Leslie intends to conduct business as usual during the Chapter 11 process, which could be completed in as little as 120 days., Today’s filing stays all pending and future asbestos litigation against Leslie. As a result, Leslie expects that its cash from operations will be sufficient to satisfy all of its operating obligations during this period. In addition, debtor-in-possession financing has been arranged for Leslie if needed.

Key terms of the pre-negotiated plan are as follows:
Funding for the 524(g) trust will consist of a $75 million contribution by Leslie andCIRCOR together with a contribution of proceeds from Leslie’s remaining asbestos insurance assets;
A provision that permanently protects CIRCOR and its affiliates from future derivative claims associated with Leslie’s asbestos liability; and
Leslie will remain a subsidiary of CIRCOR during and after Chapter 11.

Click here to read more about asbestos related disease and claims for benefits. For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related illnesses.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CMS to Rely on New Life Tables for Workers Compensation Set Aside Agreements

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recently published its 2006 United States Life Tables. Effective July 19, 2010, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin referencing the CDC's Table 1: Life table for the total population: United States, 2006, for WCMSA life expectancy calculations. This means that for any newly submitted WCMSA proposal received by CMS' Coordination of Benefits Contractor (COBC), or where any WCMSA case is reopened on or after July 19, 2010, CMS will apply the CDC's 2006 Table 1 for life expectancy calculations.


In 2006, the overall expectation of life at birth was 77.7 years, representing an increase of 0.3 years from life expectancy in 2005. From 2005 to 2006, life expectancy at birth increased for all groups considered. It increased for males (from 74.9 to 75.1) and females (from 79.9 to 80.2), the white (from 77.9 to 78.2) and black populations (from 72.8 to 73.2), black males (from 69.3 to 69.7) and females (from 76.1 to 76.5), and white males (from 75.4 to 75.7) and females (from 80.4 to 80.6).


Click here to read more about Medicare Secondary Payer Act and workers' compensation.


Click here for more information on how Jon L Gelman can assist you in a claim for workers' Compensation claim benefits. You may e-mail Jon  Gelman or call 1-973-696-7900.



Saturday, July 10, 2010

Court Permits Rehearing to Established Employer Liability

A NJ Appellate Court has affirmed the workers' compensation trial level opinion for total disability assessed entirely against an employer. The trial court had granted a motion for rehearing following a dismissal of the case when the employee alleged that he had been "sandbagged" by his employer at the original trial. 


The trial court allowed the hearing to be "reopened" against and her medical testimony and learned of the employer admittedly furnishing medical care o the injured worker. At the rehearing the the trial Judge assessed total disability against the employer and permitted no contribution from the Second Injury Fund. The Appellate Division affirmed the ruling. 


Brown v. Central Regional Board of Education, et al., Docket No. A-0025-08T3, NJ App Div 2010, 2010 WWL 269341, Decided July 9, 2010.


Click here for more information on how Jon L Gelman can assist you in a claim for workers' Compensation claim benefits. You may e-mail Jon  Gelman or call 1-973-696-7900.

House Cleaners Not Employees

A homeowner was not responsible under workers' compensation law for the injuries suffered by someone who was hired to clean the house. The Court held that individuals hired to perform basic cleaning services such as dusting, vacuuming, sweeping and bathroom cleaning did not establish an employee-employer relationship.


The reviewing tribunal, in affirming the trial court's decision, held that the relationship did not meet either "the right to control" or "relative nature of the work" tests.


Lopez v. Moser, Docket No. A-1535-09T21535-09T2, NJ App. Div., 201 WL 2696754, Decided July 9, 2010.


Click here for more information on how Jon L Gelman can assist you in a claim for workers' Compensation claim benefits. You may e-mail Jon  Gelman or call 1-973-696-7900.

Lawsuit Filled Alleging Asbestos Exposed Chemical Worker Suffered Fatal Mesothelioma

A lawsuit was filed alleging that a former chemical operator at Hoffman-LaRoche in Nutley, New Jersey was exposed to asbestos fiber and died of mesothelioma. The lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court asserts that he suffered injurious exposure to asbestos as a direct result of his exposure to asbestos fiber at work. The estate of the deceased worker brought the action against several manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos fiber.


The lawsuit, Huk v Bird, Inc., was filed Friday in the Superior Court of New Jersey by the law 
firm of Jon L. Gelman LLC, and Motley Rice LLC , on behalf of estate. It alleges that those companies that mined, processed and sold asbestos-containing products were knowledgeable about the harmful effects of exposure to asbestos and asbestos-containing products, and failed to provide those exposed with knowledge as to possible precautions to protect against the harmful effects of asbestos exposure.

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer associated with asbestos exposure. The rates asbestos related fatalities are predicted to continue for decades to come. Despite public outcry, and the urging of physicians, asbestos is still not banned in the United States.

Attorney Jon L.
Gelman, who has been litigating asbestos exposure claims for over three decades, said, “It is alleged the asbestos companies put into the stream of commerce a defective, unsafe and inherently dangerous product and failed to provide reasonable warnings.”

The defendants are Bird, Inc., Certain-Teed Corp., Frank A. McBride Company, Owens-Illinois, Inc and Rapid American Corporation.

Attorney Contact:
Jon L. Gelman of Jon L. Gelman LLC, Wayne, NJ, 973.696.7900 or visit www.gelmans.com.

Allianz Firemans Fund Increases Asbestos Reserves by $301 Million

Fireman's Fund Insurance Company a Division of Allianz has announced that it will increase its asbestos and environmental risks reserve by $301 Million. The company stated, "The move follows the completion of its regular independent external asbestos exposure review."


Asbestos has been a known carcinogen for decades. It is a natural occurring mineral that that has been used for its non-flammable properties. Medical conditions occur such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and other cancers, decades after the initial exposure.


Initially sold by companies in the 1920s, without warning of its known dangers, asbestos use continues not to be banned in the US. Disease from asbestos exposure is predicted to continue at very high rates.
 The largest transfer of economic wealth in the United States from Industry to the private sector, other than in the Attorney General’s thirty-eight State tobacco litigation, emanated from asbestos litigation which had its geneses in workers’ compensation.   The late Irving Selikoff, MD’s pioneering efforts in providing expert testimony, based upon his sentinel studies of asbestos workers in Paterson, NJ, created the trigger mechanism for a massive wave of claims for occupational health care. The workers' compensation program never did adequately nor efficiently or expeditiously provide medical care.

The workers’ compensation system did not provide an adequate remedy because of a constellation of reasons, and subsequently, the wave spread to civil litigation out of desperation for adequate benefits. Asbestos litigation has been named, "The Longest Running Tort” in American history.   Asbestos litigation expanded into  bankruptcy claims that continue unabated and the epidemic of disease continues. The remaining cases in the Federal court system were transferred to Federal Multi District Litigation (MDL 875) and the majority are finally concluding after twenty years of Panel consolidation.


Large verdicts continue to be reported in asbestos claims. A Los Angles jury recently awarded $208.8 Million in what has been recognized as the largest asbestos verdict ($200 Million punitive damages) in the State of California.  The case involved a household contact exposure to asbestos fiber. The wife of the asbestos worker was exposed to asbestos fiber on the clothes of her husband that he brought home and that she cleaned.


Click here to read more about asbestos related disease and claims for benefits. For over 3 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman1.973.696.7900 jon@gelmans.com  have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered asbestos related illnesses.



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Temporary Benefits Due During Period of Unrelated Medical Condition

An asthma flare up, that delayed surgery for a compensable back injury, was not a reason to halt the payment of workers' compensation temporary disability payment. The Court held:

"....when treatment for the original work related injury is delayed due to unrelated
conditions, the claimant was entitled to continued disability benefits during the entire period."

"The compensation judge correctly ordered continued temporary disability benefits from November 9, 2006 through February 17, 2007, "the period of time when [Schock] was unable to proceed with an authorized anterior fusion at C5-6 and C7 because of asthma flare-ups unrelated to the work accident." Schock did not refuse treatment, there is no evidence that she was able to return to work or that she was at maximum medical improvement during the brief delay in her neck surgery. Her  asthma condition was temporary and beyond her or her doctor's control."


Monday, July 5, 2010

Designing the New Federal Workers Compensation Program



The trend toward Federalization of workers’ compensation benefits took a giant step forward by recent Presidential action creating the British Petroleum Oil Compensation Fund. While the details remain vague, the broad and sweeping concept of inclusiveness is more than obvious.


This is not a surprising turn of events. It is entirely consistent with a broad pattern to sweep the ailing and fragmented patch work of state programs into a unified Federal program. In an era of economic depression, national health care reform and major workforce changes this approach is consistent with the underlying bipartisan national philosophy.

Columnist and an expert in the field, Peter Rousemaniere, recently concluded an analysis of system’s failures that have literally pushed workers’ compensation into a federalized program. “The states and workers' compensation insurers have for decades weaseled on the promise to protect workers from occupational illnesses and to honor their claims.” 

The knee jerk reaction, one would think, would be this could never happen because of interested stakeholders. In reality, they have been silently distracted by more far reaching issues and have been economically drained of resources to the point where they’ll take anything the Federal Government can offer to save them from extinction.

The Federal government is not unfamiliar with the administration and distribution of benefits. Since 1882 the federal government has been providing benefits to injured workers and their widows:  in 1900 the postal workers compensation system was established; in 1908 the Federal government established a program for those who work in hazardous environments; and, in 1932 the Social Security Administration was established. However, the Social Security Act did not embrace workers’ compensation in 1932 since the primary goal of the law was to reduce unemployment. 

The federal programs have produced a dismal result over the last few years.  The Federal Victims Compensation Fund, enacted following the horrific tragedy of September 11th, 2001, has a very strict eligibility criteria and a limited recovery scheme.  The Smallpox Emergency Personnel Protection Act of 2003 (SEPPA) was enacted following an aborted vaccination program after the government reluctantly disclosed available medical research concerning potential fatal cardiovascular reactions.  A risk analysis demonstrated that this program may not have been needed at all but was merely implemented to sway public opinion.  Ultimately, the federal government halted the Smallpox Vaccination Program and funded $100 million for the purpose of cleaning up the legacy of adverse medical reactions and to ease the burden placed upon the victims and their estates that were struggling to obtain benefits under State compensation programs.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA) (P.L.106-398) was enacted into law in October, 2000 with strong bipartisan support. EEOICPA established a program to provide compensation to employers of the Department of Energy (DOE), its contractors and subcontractors, companies that provided beryllium to DOE, and atomic weapons employers.

The Federal health care reform is a big Federal deal for workers’ compensation as it establishes the Libby Health Care Plan with far reaching impact by involving Medicare to deliver health care. The ongoing integration of conditional payments (Medicare Secondary Payer Act and mandatory reporting) as well as the review of all compromises concerning  the provision of future medical care (Workers Compensation Medical Set-aside Agreements) is already anther Federal foot in the door to prevent what in the past was a tradeoff of medical care to US taxpayer without consideration.

While federalization may not be the panacea, the target remains to limit the cost of medical expenses and provide an efficient and remedial benefit delivery system at minimal cost for administration and to hold the appropriate parties financial responsible.  The costs of maintaining duplicate medical delivery systems for workers, major medical and workers’ compensation, continues to represent an unnecessary and costly duplicate expenditures in administration and management.

The BP-Federal Oil Compensation Plan is yet another attempt to find a solution. While it may not be perfect, hopefully it will be guided successfully and will learn from past Federal trials and errors dabbling in workers’ compensation. It is obviously not the perfect solution, but that may only exist as an unattainable goal. The first step is a comprehensive and integrated Federal workers’ compensation program. A step in the right direction would be for the Federal Government to take primary responsibility for all occupational workers’ compensation claims. This would be an innovated initial approach to implement a new Federally administered Workers’ Compensation system.