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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

There Are Ways to Repair Workers' Comp

March 18, 2004

Re "Workers' Comp Time Bomb," editorial, March 14: Throughout the recent discussion of escalating workers' compensation costs, I have noticed a curious absence of any dialogue on one aspect of lowering cost: stricter enforcement of current laws regarding workplace safety. Perhaps by increasing the civil and criminal penalties for maintaining an unsafe workplace, lower workers' compensation premiums could be achieved.

However, for a start, I would settle for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health enforcing the current laws -- it is woefully underfunded and understaffed. I suggest that any legislation in regard to lowering workers' compensation rates include an increase in funding for Cal/OSHA.

Tom Revak

Diamond Bar

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Yes, in theory, the workers' compensation system should work. Also, in theory, a compromise reform package will result in some relief for employers while improving the benefits to the workers. Repair is just that: fixing something that is broken. Let us not forget that legislative compromises and watered-down reform proposals in the early to mid-1990s directly led to the crisis we are currently experiencing. If it is to be fixed, fix it; get off the partisan bandwagons and fix the system.

The Democrats have failed to protect labor or the workers, and the Republicans have failed to protect business. They are somewhat interdependent, you know. Compromise would simply further protect the lawyers and doctors at the expense of both labor and business.

Tom Pula

Sunland

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