NY Workers’ Comp—“Re-engineered” ?

November 08, 2013 New York Workers Compensation No comment

I am one of 15 attorneys state-wide who have been selected to participate in a “Focus Group” in an apparently ambitious project to “re-engineer” the entire Workers’ Comp system in New York. Here is the official announcement from the State Workers’ Compensation Board about the plan:

Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) BPR@wcb.ny.gov. is an agency-wide endeavor to evaluate and rethink the workers’ compensation system in New York. More than an attempt to improve specific processes, it’s a sweeping effort to examine the workers’ compensation system in New York as it exists today, assess how well it meets its goals, and re-create a system that effectively serves the needs of injured workers and employers.

Large, well-run organizations periodically conduct a BPR to ensure they’re performing well. Imagine it’s 1911, just days after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. As a result of that tragedy, the New York workers’ compensation system was created from the ground up. Today, with the benefit of 100 years of experience, the participation of stakeholders, stronger laws and great advances in technology, we have a more sophisticated understanding of what works and what doesn’t. We again have the opportunity to examine the system and the role of the Board in it. The goal is to create a roadmap of change from where we are now to a better system.

Working with Deloitte the Board will begin outreach to our community of stakeholders through interviews, open forums, and on-line interaction. We’ll collect information to analyze and understand how we serve injured workers and employers, how we serve our other stakeholders, and how the entire community works together and communicates.

The first phase began Aug. 26, 2013. Over the ensuing 28 weeks, a team comprised of Board executive management, Board staff and Deloitte professionals will collect information and interview representatives of stakeholders throughout the state.

Next year, workers’ compensation begins its second century in New York. Now is the time for a comprehensive system review. Over the years, the Board has taken strides and made targeted improvements to enhance the system. This project will focus us on the future of the workers’ compensation system and improve the experience for injured workers and employers.

So, I’m not sure what this all means. Perhaps it’s all just window-dressing for “same old dysfunctional Workers’ Comp Board.” Perhaps meaningful change will soon come about in a system that does not, in my opinion, serve injured workers particularly well in many ways.

Stay tuned. I will keep you informed—-from the inside of the project itself.

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