AAI Says New Calif. Workers’ Comp Law Takes Worker Safety to Higher Level

February 20, 2002

The California workers’ compensation reform bill signed into law Feb. 15 by Gov. Gray Davis (D) makes significant strides toward improving the safety of the state’s workers, according to the Alliance of American Insurers.

“Enacting AB 749 makes California the first state to create a new approach to worker safety,” Keith Lessner, vice president of safety and environment for the AAI and a primary crafter of the law’s safety provisions, commented.

“The safety reforms in AB 749 yield more worker safety using the same resources as the old program. These gains come from replacing a poorly functioning and out-of-date ‘command and control’ model with a program that focuses oversight only on problems. The upshot is dramatically reduced administrative overhead, better enforcement and new safety awareness and training programs.

“The new law assures employers will get help from their insurers in setting up safety programs and adds new services to help employers support safety for their employees with training and awareness programs. These programs are particularly aimed at special groups of employers, such as those in hazardous industries with significant injuries, young workers or non-English speaking employees,” Lessner explained.

Lessner added that by having the foresight to take a hard look at safety performance the legislature and the governor have enacted a program that will yield results to match their good intentions.

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