This document is the third annual report of the California Commission
on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation.
The Commission, created by the workers' compensation reform legislation
of 1993, is charged with overseeing the health and safety and
workers' compensation systems in California and recommending administrative
or legislative modifications to improve their operation. The Commission
was established to conduct a continuing examination of the workers'
compensation system and of the state's activities to prevent industrial
injuries and occupational diseases and to examine those programs
in other states.
The reform legislation was enacted because, during the late 1980s
and early 1990s, California employers had one of the highest workers'
compensation premium costs in the nation, while the maximum indemnity
benefits to California injured workers for temporary and permanent
disability were among the lowest in the nation. Moreover, California
had one of the highest rates of workers' compensation claims filing,
which also increased costs to employers.
The reform legislation made sweeping changes to the whole California
workers' compensation system, specifically in the areas of insurance,
fraud, psychiatric and post-termination claims, medical care,
medical-legal evaluations, vocational rehabilitation, alternative
benefit delivery systems, benefit levels, injury prevention, disability
evaluation, claims adjudication, and information systems. This
reform legislation affects not only industrially-injured workers,
but the entire workers' compensation community -- employers and
employees, insurers, medical care providers, applicant and defense
attorneys, state government agencies, and members of the public.
To fulfill its mandates, the Commission has been assessing the
impact of the 1993 workers' compensation reform legislation on
the affected systems and upon the workers' compensation community.
The Commission has solicited the opinions of all affected by the
reform legislation to determine areas of concern and to ascertain
the optimum point to begin formal evaluations of specific functions.
The workers' compensation community has responded enthusiastically
by making presentations at Commission meetings, participating
in educational programs, serving on project advisory committees,
providing statistical data, inviting Commission members and staff
to attend their meetings, and sharing their perspective of and
expertise in the workers' compensation system.
The Commission has contracted with independent research organizations
in the academic and private sectors to work with state agency
personnel and interested members of the workers' compensation
community to identify, describe, measure and propose solutions
to problems and difficulties in the current workers' compensation
These studies and other activities form the basis for Commission
findings and recommendations contained in this report.
This annual report is organized by sections:
Executive Summary: Findings and Recommendations
Section I The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation
Section II Reform Legislation Impact on the Workers' Compensation
Section III Workers' Compensation Issues
Section IV Health and Safety Issues
Section V Program and Agency Operations
Section VI Commission's Future Activities