The State Industrial Commission's Workers' Compensation Advisory Council is recommending several changes in the Utah Occupational Disease Act that will be forwarded to the Legislature's Business and Labor Interim Committee for discussion Wednesday, Oct. 17.
Dennis Lloyd, an attorney for the Worker's Compensation Fund of Utah, explained the changes to the council and said an ad hoc committee's draft reduces the size of the code by 40 sections. He said the committee's recommendations attempted to address concerns voiced by 13 people who submitted letters.The draft adopted unanimously by the committee defines a compensable occupational disease as any disease or illness which arises out of and in the course of employment and is medically caused or aggravated by the employment.
It would require an employee to promptly notify an employer about the occupational disease. If the employee is unable to do that, the notification can be done by the next-of-kin or attorney.
Any employee who fails to notify his employer or the commission within 180 days after the cause of action arises is barred from any claim for benefits arising from the occupational disease, the draft says. The cause of action shall be deemed to arise on the date the employee first suffered disability from the occupational disease.
Every employer would be required to file a report with the commission within seven days after learning of the occupational disease resulting in medical treatment, loss of consciousness, loss of work, restriction of work or transfer to another job, according to the draft.
All physicians, surgeons and other health providers, excluding hospitals, attending occupationally diseased employees shall comply with all rules, including the schedule of fees, for their services as adopted by the commission.
The proposed law provides that no employee nor dependent of any employee will receive compensation for disability or death from an occupational disease when the disability or death was caused "by the purposeful self-exposure of such employee."
When the occupational disease is caused by the willful failure of the employee to use safety devices or the employee is involved with substance abuse, compensation will be reduced by 15 percent, the draft proposes.