Posted on Feb 24, 2011
After the 2005 workers’ compensation reforms in Missouri led to several unexpected issues over the last six years, Missouri lawmakers are working towards further improvements and clarifications in the law that would make the system fairer for both injured workers and employers.

The reforms, laid out in House Bill 162, have been approved by the Missouri House of Representatives and will move forward next week.

There are two major components to the suggested changes to current workers’ compensation law. The first change would stop injured workers from suing coworkers for on-the-job injuries and accidents. This issue emerged after a Kansas City worker filed a lawsuit against a coworker after a 2007 injury at work.

The second change would specifically state that occupational diseases, such as asbestos-related conditions, should be covered by workers’ compensation and should not develop into lawsuits against employers. The 2005 workers’ compensation reforms stated that work conditions had to be a “prevailing” factor in a work-related disease instead of a “substantial” factor in a health condition. The wording led to a number of Missouri worker lawsuits against their employers for occupational diseases.

On Tuesday, The legislation was given first-round approval by a vocal vote. The bill will be voted on more formally before lawmakers expect the measure to move to the Senate for approval.

Workers’ compensation is a state-funded program that has existed in Missouri for over 80 years.