The Labor Committee once again is considering proposals to expand workers’ compensation benefits to include cases of severe mental and emotional impairment.

SB 593 would allow employees to apply for workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer severe emotional trauma resulting from witnessing a death or maiming of another person, or witnessing its aftermath (within six hours).

The employee’s trauma would have to be diagnosed by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist.

The proposal expands a similar “mental mental” proposal made last year that limited the benefit to trauma resulting from intentional violent acts. SB 593 does not make that distinction and includes coverage for the impact of unintentional acts as well.

Some testifying to the committee about SB 593 indicated that while the bill and its concept are well intentioned, it carries unintended consequences—such as, because it is broadly written, it may lead to fraudulent claims, and greater costs that could hit cities and towns.

The Labor Committee also voted to draft SB 105, a similar proposal that would expand workers’ compensation coverage to individuals suffering from mental or emotional distress as a result of witnessing certain violent incidents.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Louise DiCocco at 860 244.1169 or louise.dicocco@cbia.com.