The Division of Workers' Compensation has begun the process of destroying closed case files that are over five years old in all DWC/WCAB district offices.
With the State Records Center no longer accepting new documents because of budget constraints and lack of capacity, these files have been accumulating in the local offices for a number of months. There they are not only taking up diminishing space but causing safety and health problems for staff as well.
The files being destroyed are those in which the Application for Adjudication or other opening document is over five years old and in which there is an Order Approving a Compromise and Release (complete, not partial), an Order of Dismissal with Prejudice, or a Findings and Order finding no industrial injury. For security purposes, all of these files are being shredded
The records retention policy for WCAB case files was reduced from 15 years to five in the new board rules -- Section 10758 of Title 8, California Code of Regulations --that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2003. Previously, the older files were sent to the records center in Sacramento, where they were destroyed when the records retention period expired. It was recently estimated that files stored there occupied approximately 150,000 cubic feet of space, costing the division nearly $525,000 per year.
The records destruction process has already begun in the San Francisco and Stockton offices, where the situation was particularly egregious. The Walnut Creek and Oakland offices will be next. The other offices will follow.