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SB-893 Workers’ compensation: hospital employees.(2019-2020)

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Date Published: 04/29/2020 09:00 PM
SB893:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Senate  April 29, 2020

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2019–2020 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 893


Introduced by Senators Caballero and Skinner

January 28, 2020


An act to add Sections 3212.13 and 3212.14 3212.13, 3212.14, and 3212.145 to the Labor Code, relating to workers’ compensation.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 893, as amended, Caballero. Workers’ compensation: hospital employees.
Existing law establishes a workers’ compensation system, administered by the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, to compensate an employee for injuries sustained in the course of employment. Existing law creates a rebuttable presumption that specified injuries sustained in the course of employment of a specified member of law enforcement or a specified first responder arose out of and in the course of employment.
This bill would define “injury,” for a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital, to include infectious diseases and diseases, musculoskeletal injuries. injuries, and respiratory diseases, as defined. The bill would create rebuttable presumptions that these injuries that develop or manifest in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital arose out of and in the course of the employment. The bill would extend these presumptions for specified time periods after the hospital employee’s termination of employment. The bill would also make related findings and declarations.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) As of April 13, 2020, local health departments in California have reported 2,501 confirmed positive novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in nurses and health care workers. This data is collected daily and the number of infected nurses and health care workers continues to climb exponentially. This figure includes on-the-job exposures; however, this figure does not include the immeasurable number of asymptomatic nurses and health care workers who are currently working every day, lack personal protective equipment, and also lack the priority testing that should be conducted for health care workers, given they are essential workers.
(b) Frontline nurses treating patients with COVID-19 are likely exposed to the highest risk of infection because of their close, frequent contact with patients and longer than usual working hours. By the nature of their profession, health care workers in California are in daily danger of direct exposure to all infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

(a)

(c) According to the United States Department of Labor, health care is one of the fastest growing sectors, currently employing 20 million people, and is expected to add more jobs than any other occupational group. Women represent nearly 80 percent of the health care workforce.

(b)

(d) Registered nurses constitute the largest occupation within the health care sector and number over 2,500,000, of which 70 percent are employed in hospitals. Nearly 90 percent of registered nurses are women.

(c)

(e) Workers’ compensation was created to ensure that workers who are injured or become ill due to work are promptly and fully cared for and that employers are held responsible for maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. Certain occupations have significantly increased exposure or susceptibility to particular work-related injuries or illnesses that can be recognized, and at least partially remedied, through guaranteed access to the workers’ compensation system.

(d)

(f) In California and many other states, a number of injuries and illnesses are already presumed work related, and therefore eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, for firefighters, police officers, first responders, and other categories of workers. These professions predominantly employ men. According to the United States Department of Labor, 3 out of 4 EMTs and paramedics are men, 7 out of 8 police officers are men, and 19 out of 20 firefighters are men.

(e)

(g) According to the United States Department of Labor, nine out of 10 registered nurses are women. Registered nurses working in a hospital treat the same patients that first responders, firefighters, and police officers treat.

(f)

(h) In California, women earn 89 cents for every dollar earned by a man, according to the United States Census Bureau. Given this persistent wage gap and the additional caregiving burden that women often bear, guaranteeing access to workers’ compensation for nurses, of whom nearly 90 percent are women, will aid in addressing economic and social gender inequality.

(g)

(i) By the nature of their profession, health care workers are in constant danger of being directly exposed to many hazards, including infectious diseases and ergonomic hazards, and indirectly exposed through contact with various pieces of equipment, chemicals, and clothing.

(h)

(j) Registered nurses have significantly more exposure to infectious diseases, including bloodborne pathogens, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), tuberculosis, and meningitis, than other workers. According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, one out of every 100 inpatient stays in California involved MRSA. In addition, the incidence of tuberculosis in California was significantly higher than the national average, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(i)

(k) Registered nurses experience more work-related injuries and illnesses than workers overall in the United States, including 43 percent more musculoskeletal disorders, over 10 percent more injuries and illnesses of all kinds, and 131 percent more injuries from workplace violence.

(j)

(l) Registered nurses provide hands-on, direct patient care, which often requires physically assisting, moving, and repositioning patients. Many studies have documented the high rates of musculoskeletal disorders that occur among nurses. In crafting a regulation, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health has deemed musculoskeletal disorders and related injuries a significant hazard specifically encountered by health care workers.

(k)

(m) Because health care workers have significantly increased exposure or susceptibility to particular work-related injuries or illnesses, it is appropriate to protect them by guaranteeing access to the workers’ compensation system.

SEC. 2.

 Section 3212.13 is added to the Labor Code, to read:

3212.13.
 (a) In the case of a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital, the term “injury” as used in this division includes an infectious disease when any part of the disease or infection develops or manifests itself during a period of the person’s employment with the hospital.
(b) The compensation that is awarded for an infectious disease shall include, but not be limited to, full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits, as provided by the workers’ compensation laws of this state.
(c) (1) An infectious disease that develops or manifests in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment. This presumption is rebuttable by other evidence, but, unless rebutted, the appeals board shall presume the infectious disease arose out of and in the course of the employment.
(2) The bloodborne infectious disease presumption, tuberculosis presumption, and meningitis presumption shall be extended to a hospital employee pursuant to paragraph (1) following termination of employment for a period of three calendar months for each full year of employment, but not to exceed 60 months, beginning with the last date actually worked in the specified capacity.
(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (2), the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus skin infection presumption shall be extended to a hospital employee pursuant to paragraph (1) following termination of employment for a period of 90 days, beginning with the last day actually worked in the specified capacity.
(d) An infectious disease that develops or manifests in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital shall not be attributed to a disease or skin infection that existed before that development or manifestation.
(e) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Acute care hospital” means a health facility as defined in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code.
(2) “Bloodborne infectious disease” means a disease caused by exposure to pathogenic micro-organisms that are present in human blood that can cause disease in humans, including those pathogenic micro-organisms defined as bloodborne pathogens by the Department of Industrial Relations.
(3) “Infectious disease” means any of the following:
(A) Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus skin infection.
(B) Bloodborne infectious diseases.
(C) Tuberculosis.
(D) Meningitis.
(E) Other infectious diseases caused by novel pathogens, such as novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

SEC. 3.

 Section 3212.14 is added to the Labor Code, to read:

3212.14.
 (a) In the case of a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital, the term “injury” as used in this division includes a musculoskeletal injury that develops or manifests itself during a period of the person’s employment with the hospital.
(b) The compensation that is awarded for a musculoskeletal injury shall include, but not be limited to, full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits, as provided by this division.
(c) The musculoskeletal injury that develops or manifests in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment. This presumption is rebuttable by other evidence, but, unless rebutted, the appeals board shall presume the musculoskeletal injury arose out of and in the course of the employment. This presumption shall be extended to a hospital employee following termination of employment for a period of three calendar months for each full year of employment, but not to exceed 60 months, beginning with the last date actually worked in the specified capacity. A musculoskeletal injury that develops or manifests in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital shall not be attributed to a disease that existed before that development or manifestation.
(d) As used in this section:
(1) “Acute care hospital” means a health facility as defined in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code.
(2) “Musculoskeletal injury” means acute injury or cumulative trauma of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bursas, peripheral nerves, joints, bones, or blood vessels.

SEC. 4.

 Section 3212.145 is added to the Labor Code, immediately following Section 3212.14, to read:

3212.145.
 (a) In the case of a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital, the term “injury” as used in this division includes respiratory disease that develops or manifests itself during a period of the person’s employment with the hospital.
(b) The compensation that is awarded for respiratory disease shall include, but not be limited to, full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity, and death benefits, as provided by this division.
(c) The respiratory disease that develops or manifests in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of the employment. This presumption is rebuttable by other evidence, but, unless rebutted, the appeals board shall presume the respiratory disease arose out of and in the course of the employment. This presumption shall be extended to a hospital employee following termination of employment for a period of three calendar months for each full year of employment, but not to exceed 120 months, beginning with the last date actually worked in the specified capacity. The respiratory disease that develops or manifests in a hospital employee who provides direct patient care in an acute care hospital shall not be attributed to a disease that existed before that development or manifestation.
(d) As used in this section:
(1) “Acute care hospital” means a health facility as defined in subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 1250 of the Health and Safety Code.
(2) “Respiratory disease” includes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and other respiratory diseases caused by novel pathogens.