NYCOSH ACTION ALERT: PROTECT SEVERELY INJURED WORKERS TODAY
The workers’ compensation system is a critical part of the social safety net. When someone is hurt on the job, workers’ compensation is the first – and most often the only – means of payment for lost wages and medical bills. Where the injury involves the permanent loss of use of a hand, a foot, an arm or a leg, the system is almost always the only source of payment for the lasting impact the disability has on a worker’s life.
The New York State Legislature is currently considering two dangerous proposals from business interests: one that would further limit compensation for lost wages, and another that would allow business to slash awards for permanent injury to a workers limb.
The law is already inadequate to replace the wages lost by a worker who is permanently partially disabled. Despite the fact that a permanent injury will go on for the rest of a worker’s life, the longest period of “permanent” disability benefits is only ten years, leaving workers to face a lifetime of lost wages without compensation. By some estimates, workers’ compensation now covers only ten to twenty percent of the cost of on-the-job injury. Legislation that would further limit the time period in which workers’ compensation benefits can be paid would force injured workers to bear even more of the cost of on-the-job injury.
Payments made to workers who have amputations, crushed hands and feet, major surgery, and similar injuries, depend not only on the extent of the loss, but also the injured worker’s salary before the accident. These payments, known as schedule loss awards, have not increased for workers who earn less than $31,000 per year since 1992. If the guidelines that decide schedule loss awards are rewritten by business, low-wage and middle-income workers will be given even less than they received for the same injury 25 years ago.
In 2007, the Legislature passed a law requiring an annual report so that it could see how these workers were faring in the system. This “safety net report” has not been produced in over seven years. Although business complains that employer costs are rising, studies show that at the same time, payments to injured workers have been declining. Yet no one is requiring the insurance industry to show how it is spending employers’ premium dollars.
Join us today and urge the NYS Legislature to reject the business campaign to further take money from injured workers. Contact your senators and assembly representatives to let them know that business proposals to attack amputees and other permanently disabled workers are not acceptable.
Find your New York State Senator and Assembly Rep and call today:
Find your Senator: www.nysenate.gov/find-my-senator
Find your Assembly Representative: http://nyassembly.gov/mem/