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California State Capitol. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

What Is the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation?

The commission conducts a continuing examination of the workers’ compensation system

By Chris Micheli, April 6, 2023 7:42 am

California’s Labor Code, in Division 1, Chapter 3, provides for the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC). Labor Code Section 75 specifies that there is in the department the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation. CHSWC is composed of eight voting members. Four voting members represent organized labor, and four voting members represent employers. 

In addition, two of the employer and two of the labor members are to be appointed by the Governor. The Senate Committee on Rules and the Speaker of the Assembly each appoint one employer and one labor representative. The public employer representative is to be appointed by the Governor. No action of the commission is valid unless agreed to by a majority of the membership and by not less than two members representing organized labor and two members representing employers. The commission alternates an employer and organized labor representative to chair the commission for one-year terms.

CHSWC meets every other month and upon the call of the chair. Meetings are open to the public, and the commissioners received $100 for each day of their actual attendance at meetings of the commission and other official business of the commission, as well as their actual traveling expenses.

Section 76 authorizes the commission to employ officers, assistants, experts, and other employees it deems necessary. All personnel of the commission are under the supervision of the chair or an executive officer to whom he or she delegates this responsibility. Personnel are appointed pursuant to the State Civil Service Act.

Section 77 requires the commission to conduct a continuing examination of the workers’ compensation system, and of the state’s activities to prevent industrial injuries and occupational diseases. The commission may conduct or contract for studies it deems necessary to carry out its responsibilities. In carrying out its duties, the commission is required to examine other states’ workers’ compensation programs and activities to prevent industrial injuries and occupational diseases. All state departments and agencies, and any rating organization licensed by the Insurance Commissioner, is required to cooperate with the commission and provide information and data in their possession that the commission deems necessary for the purpose of carrying out its responsibilities.

In addition, the commission is required to issue an annual report on the state of the workers’ compensation system, including recommendations for administrative or legislative modifications which would improve the operation of the system. The report must be made available to the Governor, the Legislature, and the public on request. The commission also can issue a report and recommendations on the improvement and simplification of the notices required to be provided by insurers and self-insured employers.

Section 77.5 requires the commission to periodically update its survey and evaluation of evidence-based, peer-reviewed, nationally recognized standards of care, including existing medical treatment utilization standards, including independent medical review, as used in other states, at the national level, and in other medical benefit systems.

Section 77.7 requires the commission, in partnership with the County of Los Angeles and relevant labor organizations, to submit a study to the Legislature, the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on the risk of exposure to carcinogenic materials and incidence of occupational cancer in mechanics who repair and clean firefighting vehicles. At a minimum, the study had to include specified information.

Section 77.8 requires the Commission to conduct a study of the impacts claims of COVID-19 have had on the workers’ compensation system, including overall impacts on indemnity benefits, medical benefits, and death benefits, including differences in the impacts across differing occupational groups.

Section 78 requires the commission to review and approve applications from employers and employee organizations, as well as applications submitted jointly by an employer organization and an employee organization, for grants to assist in establishing effective occupational injury and illness prevention programs. The commission must establish policies for the evaluation of these applications and give priority to applications proposing to target high-risk industries and occupations, including those with high injury or illness rates, and those in which employees are exposed to one or more hazardous substances or conditions or where there is a demonstrated need for research to determine effective strategies for the prevention of occupational illnesses or injuries.

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