Having participated in recent successful workers' compensation legislation reform efforts, I was disheartened by The Times' one-sided analysis of rising costs in California's workers' compensation system, "Workers' Comp Reforms Fail to Quell Discontent" (March 17).
With a growth rate of more than 700,000 people each year, California's population will grow from about 30 million this year to at least 36 million by the year 2010, adding significantly to our work force. As the number of employees increases, it is unlikely the state can have a net reduction in on-the-job injuries unless all participants are given the proper incentives to improve workplace safety.
"Workers' Compensation: Return to Fundamentals"--a report endorsed by the California Council of Police and Sheriffs, California Chiropractic Assn., California Applicants' Attorneys Assn. and other concerned groups--insists that the "reform" that would most benefit all parties in California's workers' compensation system would be to place the highest premium on workplace safety.
In fact, placing more emphasis on safety is the best way, perhaps the only way, to realize true long-term reform and savings in the system.
With the Margolin-Greene Workers' Compensation Reform Act of 1989 already in place, the challenge of the coming decade will be for employers, insurers, medical professionals, attorneys and employees to work with the governor and legislative leaders to make prevention of on-the-job injuries one of the state's highest priorities.
G. RONALD FEENBERG
The writer is president of the California Applicants' Attorneys Assn. in Sacramento.