Workers' Compensation Committee Update

December 1, 2011

Carpal Tunnel, Diagnostic Network Draft Regulations

Today is the last day to submit comments on the draft Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Medical Treatment Guidelines. This draft MTG was the last provided by the medical team convened after the 2007 reforms (aka the “Task Force”). There was much debate among the medical professionals on the need for a stand-alone MTG on carpal tunnel; several, including the team of medical professionals representing business, argued for an “upper extremity” MTG for consistency both with the already completed body-part MTGs and in the medical diagnosis and treatment. It was the decision of the Task Force director to proceed with a CTS guideline which, upon review of comments received by the WCB, will be “incorporated by reference” with the four existing MTGs.

Issued in the Nov. 23 State Register for public comment (I'll resist temptation to make any turkey references): draft diagnostic network regulations. Comments are due to the Board by Jan. 9, 2012. While various iterations of these regs have circulated over the last several years, it is not clear, given the existing Medical Treatment Guidelines prior approval, whether the benefit of diagnostic networks can be fully realized; or whether cost of compliance with these regulations will outweigh any benefits of establishing a network. The Board's proposed definition of “reasonable distance” continues to include mileage requirements from home or place of employment – an issue that has been raised by BCNYS members previously as a documentation headache. I welcome all thoughts from members on these draft regs as we prepare to submit comments.

Assembly Roundtable on Youth Workplace Safety Recap

The Assembly Labor Committee & Subcommittee on Workplace Safety held a roundtable on Oct. 26 in New York City on “The High Rate of Non-Fatal Job Related Injuries Involving Young Workers.” Roundtable participants included folks from Capital Region BOCES, NYSDOL, the Workers' Comp Board, OSHA, CSEA, the Youth Construction Initiative, The Business Council and the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH). The purpose of the roundtable was to address (i) safety and other training of youth, (ii) recordkeeping by employers, the NYSDOL and the WCB, including working papers and (iii) adding to the existing list of prohibited occupations for youth.

NYCOSH cited its interpretation of statistics on youth injuries in the workplace, youths being identified as those workers between 15 and 23 years old. The Workers' Comp Board cited claims data that showed plunging injury claims for youth between 2002 and 2009. NYCOSH recommended a list of new mandates on employers for consideration; NYSDOL noted that whatever conclusions the group came to should not include additional mandates on businesses. Assemblyman Lancman agreed that any solutions and conclusions reached should be balanced. As discussions progressed, three industries emerged as those needing the most attention regarding youth injuries: restaurants, retail and construction.

At the conclusion of the roundtable, Assemblyman Lancman cited the need for follow up in developing safety training prerequisites for youth applying for working papers, taking a closer look at injury data for youth in restaurant industry jobs, for NYSDOL to examine the feasibility of an online working papers process and for more action on a joint NYSDOL/WCB youth training initiative called Passport to Safety.