May 5, 2004

Christine Baker

CHSWC issues report on workers' comp causation and apportionment

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) unanimously voted at its public meeting on May 5, 2004 in San Francisco to approve and issue a report on the CHSWC study of workers' compensation causation and apportionment.

One of the reasons that California workers' compensation costs are higher than other states despite lower temporary and permanent disability compensation weekly payment rates may be that many injuries are compensable in California that would not be compensable in other jurisdictions.

In November 2003, Assemblyman Rick Keene and Senator Charles Poochigian formally requested that CHSWC prepare a background study that would provide research on laws of compensability and apportionment in California as compared with other states.

The background paper did not make any recommendations to change the law defining which injuries would be compensable, but the paper did make recommendations to consider changes in the apportionment of disability when an injured worker's disability is caused by a combination of a work injury plus prior injuries or other conditions. Specifically, the background paper recommends

CHSWC's apportionment recommendations were all incorporated into SB 899, the workers' compensation reform legislation enacted in April 2004, either specifically or as part of a broader revision of the apportionment law.

CHSWC, 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.

Since its inception in 1994, CHSWC 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.

Further information about CHSWC and its activities may be obtained 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. CHSWC information and publications are also available at