DC Bill Would Protect Injured Government WorkersThursday, September 6, 2012
(Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO)
Members of a Fort Totten trash collection crew hospitalized recently due to exposure to toxic vapors while on the job may face major hurdles when they try to get the workers’ compensation and health care benefits they need to recover. “We have advised hundreds of injured workers and seen the obstacles they face firsthand,” reports Ari Weisbard of the D.C. Employment Justice Center, where Injured Worker Advocates (at right), a group of injured D.C. government workers, advocates for greater fairness in D.C.‘s disability compensation system. Workers injured on the job suffer financial and emotional hardship when the Office of Risk Management, which administers the public sector workers' compensation program “keeps coming up with excuses to suspend their benefits,” says Weisbard. "This is why we need the DC Council to pass the Injured Government Workers Protection Act, so injured workers will get the benefits and care they need when accidents like this happen.” In another example, Andre Brown, a former welder for the DC Housing Authority, was sprayed with sewage while on the job, causing an infection that destroyed his heart and liver. “Now, years after this debilitating injury and a resulting heart and liver transplant, he is in poor health and has severely limited physical abilities, and the arbitrary suspension of his benefits has forced Andre into homelessness,” says Weisbard. Introduced by Councilmember Michael Brown last July and co-sponsored by Councilmembers McDuffie, Alexander, Barry, and Orange, the Injured Government Workers Protection Act would reform the workers' comp procedures for injured public sector workers to better protect them from arbitrary termination or reductions of benefits. Click here to sign a petition supporting the Act.