FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mónica Novoa, NYCOSH
Office: (212) 227-6440 ext. 14
STATEWIDE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADVOCATES HOSTED DAY OF ACTION & DELIVERED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF POSTCARDS AGAINST PROPOSED BENEFIT CUTS TO INJURED WORKERS
Brooklyn, New York – Health and safety advocates and medical professionals from across New York State gathered for days of action across the State of New York today before submitting tens of thousands of postcards to demand the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board withdraw its proposed guidelines. Actions took place in Brooklyn, Hauppauge Long Island, and Buffalo New York with petition deliveries occurring at Workers’ Compensation Offices all across New York State.
According to a document released on the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health website, the proposed guidelines were “toxic” for injured workers and could lead to the ultimate destruction of the New York State Workers’ Compensation System. Specifically, stated the group, the proposals would:
- Give company-assigned doctors undue power to suspend care. With this new “insult to injury rule” already injured workers will not be allowed unbiased medical care and will be forced to go to a company-assigned doctor who can perform any exam or ask any question-regardless of relevance to a person’s injury. If the company doctor then decides that that worker did not “fully cooperate” with the exam, the doctor can recommend a suspension of benefits and care.
- Slash protections by eliminating injury payments for a number of injuries to workers already struggling to make ends meet. Fractures, ligament and tendon tears, dislocated patellas – the list goes on and on of painful life-altering injuries to the body that would be eliminated from any payment under the comp system. The proposals also slash vital injury payments for a number of impairments associated with a workers’ ability to fully extend their arms and legs, cutting benefits by up to 97% for some injuries.
- Illegally seize the power of the legislature to determine the nature of medical impairment, eliminating accountability and transparency and spelling doom for Workers Comp in New York State. This proposal grants the Board sweeping authority to sidestep the law to adjust claims, regardless of what the legislation guarantees.
Leading the post card delivery in Brooklyn, New York, Charlene Obernauer, Executive Director at NYCOSH stated, “We’re delivering these petition cards to call on the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board to protect New York’s injured workers. It’s that simple. These proposed guidelines have no basis in medical science and need to be unilaterally rejected. We’re sick of the attack on injured workers, and we’re here to say that injured New Yorkers deserve better than to have their benefits taken away.”
Civil and immigrant rights advocates also decried the proposals.
“It is outrageous that the Workers’ Compensation Board is proposing changes that will limit even more the ability of injured workers to obtain their critical benefits. We will fight back and tell the Board that workers won’t tolerate these cuts,” said Daniel Cortes, member of Make the Road New York.
Leah Lotto, Staff Attorney at National Council for Law and Economic Justice stated, “We oppose the Workers’ Compensation Board’s proposals, which will drastically reduce benefits to New York’s injured and ill workers. Low-wage workers will receive lower benefits for the same injury than they would have received in 1992. These harmful proposals must be withdrawn.
The Workers’ Compensation Alliance, an advocacy group of attorneys also spoke out against the proposals and the inadequacy of the overall New York State Workers’ Compensation System for low-wage injured workers. Its Chairman, Robert Grey, spoke against the proposals at the petition card delivery in Hauppauge, New York.
“Even under the current guidelines, permanency awards fail to provide workers with adequate compensation for lost wages and other economic consequences of being injured on the job,” stated Robert Grey, Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Alliance. “The revisions the Board has proposed would eliminate compensation for permanent injury altogether in most cases. This is not what the Legislature intended, and we don’t believe there is any reasonable medical or economic justification for the Board’s proposals. We continue to call on the Board to withdraw its proposals and honor the purpose of the law, which is to provide compensation to workers who are injured on the job.”
About NYCOSH: The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) is a membership organization of workers, unions, community-based organizations, workers’ rights activists, and health and safety professionals. NYCOSH uses training, education, and advocacy to improve health and safety conditions in our workplaces, our communities, and our environment. Founded in 1979 on the principle that workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths are preventable, NYCOSH works to extend and defend every person’s right to a safe and healthy workplace. For more information, visit nycosh.org, follow the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health on Facebook, and @NYCOSH on Twitter.