Post-traumatic stress disorder coverage could become new workers’ compensation benefit

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Employees who experience a tragic event at work that results in post-traumatic stress disorder would be able to apply for worker’s compensation under a bill on its way to the governor.

HF1359/ SF1234* would add PTSD as a covered occupational disease under workers’ compensation. The House passed the bill 128-0 on Friday, sending it to the governor for final action. Rep. Tim Mahoney (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin) sponsor the bill that was passed 38-24 by the Senate May 3.

Mahoney said the bill doesn’t go far enough to support workers with PTSD and is the second strictest provision in the country.

“This has come out of the Red Lake shooting where one of the teachers claimed post-traumatic stress and was denied worker’s comp,” Mahoney said. “It should not be problematic for a worker … to get help from a licensed professional.”

The bill also includes provisions regarding injured workers who receive job placement services.

Injured workers have had unlimited compensated job development and placement services to help them return to work after being rehabilitated and cleared for employment. The bill would cap services of a qualified rehabilitation consultant to 20 hours per month per client. After 13 weeks, the client’s progress would be reviewed and up to 13 more weeks of consulting services may be provided, if necessary. The bill would cap services at 26 weeks.

The provision is one of the recommendations provided by the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council, which negotiated the provisions in the amendment with representatives of union and labor industry, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Labor and Industry.

“What they’re trying to do here, and I fully agree, is get people to go into retraining rather than trying to get their old job back. Let’s face it, if you are a right-handed machinist and you get your hand crushed, it’s unlikely that you’re gonna go back to being a right-handed machinist,” Mahoney said.

Shar Knutson, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO which represents about 200,000 workers, said the bill represents the most comprehensive agreement reached in the last 20 years.

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