Insurance Group to Review Compensation Mandates in Ergo Rule

The American Insurance Association urged a task force to review the compensation mandates for OSHA's ergonomics rule and their implications on the workers' comp system.

At a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Workers'' Compensation Task Force meeting in Boston last week, the American Insurance Association (AIA) urged the Task Force to immediately form an ergonomics working group to review the compensation mandates, Worker Restriction Protections (WRP), in OSHA''s ergonomics rule and their implications for the workers'' compensation system.

AIA hopes the working group''s report could support development of a friend of the court brief AIA has asked NAIC to file in the AIA-coordinated lawsuit against OSHA.

Various legal challenges to OSHA''s ergonomics rule have been consolidated in the Washington, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Time is of the essence, so NAIC must respond quickly," said Bruce Wood, AIA assistant general counsel. "We hope NAIC view the ergonomics rule''s threat to the integrity of the state-based workers'' compensation system with alarm. OSHA''s intrusion is the greatest threat to the system in over a quarter-century."

NAIC Workers'' Compensation Task Force Chair Darla Lyon said during last weeks meeting that she will be scheduling an executive session of the Task Force to determine the nature of the Task Force''s involvement.

"The WRP compensation mandates will severely impact state regulation of workers'' compensation -- eliminating the exclusive remedy, diluting injury causation requirements, usurping medical fee and treatment rules and impeding effective administration of the workers'' compensation system. The result will be higher costs on employers and insurers alike," said Wood.

Under the rule, OSHA has mandated that employers provide compensation of WRPs for up to 90 days at up to 100 percent of salary, with full benefits, upon the finding by a health care professional of an employee''s qualifying musculoskeletal disorder and recommendation to transfer or remove the worker from the workplace.

The rule also requires the employer to cover the cost of medical diagnosis and plans for treatment.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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