Now that the articles of incorporation for the Injured Workers Association of Utah have been filed, making the organization a legal entity in the state, the first order of business will be to push its proposals through the Legislature.
The group has 13 items in the package, including an expansion of vocational rehabilitation, and sponsors are being sought to get them filed, according to Patrick J. O'Conner, who was instrumental in getting the organization off the ground in the past few months and was elected president for his efforts.Other officers are Teresa Thompson, first vice president, and David Gordon, second vice president. During the group's first meeting, a 25-member board of trustees was announced.
O'Conner said the organization would seek to promote and protect the rights and interests of handicapped and other individuals injured in the workplace and their dependents. He wants to educate the public on problems of work-related injuries as defined in the Utah workers compensation and occupational disease laws.
He said the group wants to eliminate problems faced by people who have had experiences with the lack of rehabilitation available and the apparent lack of concern for injured workers and their families.
One bill the organization supports is HB9, a re-employment bill that contains provisions for rehabilitation of injured workers. "The possibility of having our first rehabilitation bill in the history of this state is very close to becoming a reality," O'Conner said.
The new president said the Utah Manufacturers Association is "surreptitiously drafting legislation apparently dealing with the redefinition of the term `accident' found in the Workers Compensation Code. Their apparent intent it to exclude as many injured workers from the system as possible."
O'Conner said the organization will take the necessary steps to inform those involved in the legislative process about the intended action.