The Business Council of New York State, Inc. believes that workers should receive workers' compensation benefits for injuries and illnesses associated with their work activities and that these benefits be provided in a just and expeditious manner. Thankfully, the state of New York already has a system in place which meets this criterion. S.3321/A.7177 seeks to change this system in a way that goes beyond the intent and structure of existing law. As such, The Business Council cannot support this legislation.
New York State defines an occupational disease in section 2(15) of the workers' compensation law as "a disease resulting from the nature of employment and contracted therein." There must be a well defined causal relationship between the disease contracted and the nature of employment. S.3321/A.7177 would provide that any process involving outdoor activity or treatment of animals would entitle an employee to workers' compensation.
The proposed legislation changes the entire standard and criteria by which we view occupational diseases. Under this legislation, anyone who contracts Lyme disease, even if that someone is not employed as an outdoor worker they would be eligible for workers' compensation. It would not matter if they were a landscape engineer or a data entry specialists. Further, by removing this requirement it allows for virtually anyone who contracts Lyme disease to be eligible for workers' compensation. Under this legislation there is no link required between employment and the disease which is one of the basic principles of workers' compensation occupational disease law. This sets a very damaging precedent for the future.
For the reasons mentioned above, The Business Council opposes this bill and urges that it be held.