Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation
Information Bulletin

August 13, 1999 Christine Baker
(415) 703-4220

Commission Issues Annual Report on California's Health, Safety and Workers' Compensation Systems

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation has issued its Annual Report for 1998-99, including several recommendations designed to optimize the delivery of proper workers' compensation benefits to injured workers at the lowest possible cost to employers.

The Commission is concerned with the identification of the appropriate types and levels of benefits to compensate workers sustaining industrial injuries and illnesses, with a particular focus on return-to-work. The Commission focused its attention on the impact of the reform legislation on the community, on various aspects of California’s health and safety and workers’ compensation systems, and on the operations of state agencies charged with carrying out those programs.

Annual Report highlights include recommendations to

Review the workers’ compensation benefit structure to efficiently decrease uncompensated wage loss for industrially disabled workers in California and increase the number of injured workers returning to sustained work and reduce the system’s transaction and friction costs.

Improve the benefit notice program, which is intended to be a key communication tool between the workers’ compensation claims administrator and the injured worker keeping the worker informed about important changes in the status of his or her claim.

Standardize forms and procedures used in the district offices of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.

Simplify payment process for workers’ compensation benefits.

Revise the system of state audits of workers’ compensation insurers, self-insured employers, and third-party administrators.

A special section of the 1998-99 Annual Report, developed at the request of the Legislature, describes the changes in workers’ compensation costs and benefits since the 1993 reform legislation.

The Commission has determined that the workers’ compensation community -- including employees, employers, insurers, evaluators, third-party administrators and benefit providers -- believes that the workers’ compensation system is still too complex and needs further simplification and modification in certain areas.

The Commission 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.

Since its inception in 1994, the Commission has held meetings, conducted fact-finding hearings, and directed several studies to determine how these crucial programs are serving California employees and employers. These studies, conducted by independent research organizations under contract with the Commission, and other activities were aided by the involvement of state agency personnel and interested members of the workers’ compensation community. This cooperative public-private partnership continues to work together to identify, describe, measure and propose solutions to problems and difficulties in the current health and safety and workers’ compensation systems.

A copy of the Commission's 1998-99 Annual Report is available at no charge by writing to Christine Baker, Executive Officer, Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, 10th Floor, San Francisco, California 94102, by calling (415) 703-4220, or by faxing a request to (415) 703-4234.

The annual report and other Commission publications are also available through the Internet at the California Department of Industrial Relations' home page at Information about the Commission may be accessed by choosing either ‘Occupational Safety & Health’ or ‘Workers’ Compensation’.