Nurses Union Successfully Supports Bill for Presumptions in Workers Compensation – April 30, 2009

April 2009

UNAC/UHCP political director makes a case for AB 664 to create new presumptions in workers compensation for dangerous working conditions of direct health care providers

UNAC/UHCP Political Director Jimmy Gomez testified before the California State Assembly Insurance Committee on April 22, 2009, in support of AB 664 regarding new presumptions in workers compensation for direct healthcare providers. The bill passed in committee by a vote of 7 to 3.

Authored by Nancy Skinner, assembly member for the 14th District, AB 664 provides that back or neck injuries, MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and other blood-borne infectious diseases be presumed under workers compensation to be job related if suffered or contracted by direct healthcare providers.

"Registered Nurses, like any other direct healthcare providers, have an increased likelihood of exposure to certain injuries and illnesses due to the nature of their work," stated Gomez. "The safety concerns posed under these working conditions, particularly considering the physical nature of patient care provision and the increasing number of patients with more severe conditions, must be taken into account under workers compensation laws."

Nurses rank third in the number of work days missed due to illnesses and injuries, according to a study conducted by the 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics. While current infection control measures attempt to control the spread of blood-borne infectious diseases like MSRA, one of the most virulent types of antibiotic-resistant staph infections, the measures cannot completely eliminate these serious job-related threats.

"Passage of AB 664 shows a respect for and understanding of the inarguable risks registered nurses and other direct healthcare providers encounter when caring for families throughout California," said Gomez. "We hope that the Committee on Appropriations will come to the same conclusion as we continue to support better and safer working conditions through AB 664 and other similar bills."