Many injuries and illnesses in the federal workplace “are preventable, and executive departments and agencies can and should do more to improve workplace safety and health, improve efficiencies, reduce the financial burden of injury on taxpayers, and relieve unnecessary suffering by workers and their families,” a new OMB memo says.
Under the new “PEER” (Protecting Employees, Enabling Reemployment) initiative, agencies are to reduce total injury and illness case rates in general and lost-time cases in particular; improve the timeliness of overall claims in general and wage-loss claims in particular; increase the rates at which employees return to work within 45 days of an injury (when they typically are still in regular pay status) and in cases of moderate to severe injury or illness; and make full use of electronic filing.
Agencies were told to coordinate with OSHA and the FECA program, and the Labor Department is to measure both government-wide and agency-level performance. No new funds will be added to agency budgets for compliance, it adds.
According to Labor Department figures, in 2019 the FECA program paid more than $3 billion to more than 200,000 injured workers and survivors, more than $1.9 billion of that for wage-loss compensation, $900 million for medical and rehabilitation services and the remainder for death benefits. More than 100,000 new claims are filed each year.
The program follows a similar initiative by the Obama administration that is now expired. Trump administration budget proposals have sought more substantial changes in the program but Congress has not acted on those proposals.
Read more on Workers Compensation Benefits for Federal Employees at ask.FEDweek.com