By Omar D. Davis
I would like to take this opportunity to address statements made in the recent op-ed by Mark Baker on workers' compensation. As director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, I feel compelled to set the record straight.
The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is an unbiased agency that was created to protect the rights of both employees and employers. As the system was set up to address the concerns of both groups, our practice has always been, and remains so today, to work with employers and employees regarding workplace injuries and illnesses.
The Workers' Compensation Law was created to offer protections for employees and employers in the event of a workplace injury. Workers' compensation insurance provided financial assistance to workers injured on the job. Our department helps ensure that injured workers receive appropriate medical treatment and compensation for lost wages. In fact, the majority of Missouri's employers are required, by law, to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees. This required insurance also offers protections and a level of certainty for the employer when an employee is injured on the job.
The new Workers' Compensation Law championed by Gov. Matt Blunt not only provides essential protections for Missouri workers harmed on the job, it is helping employers create jobs and employment opportunities for Missourians. Before the new law, high workers' compensation insurance premiums were costing Missouri jobs. The new law is helping to decrease workers' compensation rates by at least 10 percent, which is helping Missouri employers attract and retain more jobs and opportunities for Missouri workers.
The department also assists our customers by providing prompt and equitably resolution of disputes in cases of work-related injuries and occupational illnesses. We offer a mediation service, which helps employers and employees resolve disputes regarding medical treatment and lost wages. This helps prevent costly depositions or formal hearings.
The department is committed to preserving the integrity and the balance of the workers' compensation system so that the rights of both workers and employers are protected under the law.
Omar D. Davis is the director of the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations in Jefferson City, Mo.