When workers are injured on the job, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance typically covers the medical bills and expenses. But a bill in the Florida legislature would reduce the fines on businesses penalized for not carrying sufficient workers’ compensation insurance.
House Bill 271 bill is designed to loosen the penalties and fines imposed on employers that fail to get proper workers’ compensation insurance and to allow businesses that receive a stop-work order to resume operation more quickly. The legislation, if approved, would send employers a message that Florida is not serious about employers protecting their workers from on-the-job injuries. That’s unfortunate.
Employers who do not carry the appropriate workers’ compensation insurance coverage are also the employers that are more likely to not follow proper safety protocols as well. When employers fail to ensure that workplaces are safe and free of foreseeable hazards, workers suffer the consequences in workplace injuries and fatal accidents.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 209 workers died in on-the-job accidents in Florida in 2012, the most recent year of complete data. Eighty percent of those were wage and salaried employees. The most common type of fatal work accidents involved car crashes and workers on foot being struck by vehicles or pieces of equipment. Slips, trips and falls also accounted for a sizable share of the fatal work accidents. Construction industry accidents had the highest number of fatal injuries.
What is a Stop-Work Order?
To enforce the requirement that employers carry workers’ compensation insurance, the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation currently conducts inspections of employers and may issue a Stop Work Order requiring the employer to cease all business operations if it lacks workers’ compensation insurance. It is against the law to work in violation of a Stop-Work Order. To get the Stop-Work Order lifted, the employer must show proof of having obtained the proper insurance coverage and pay the assessed penalties.
Under the proposed law, employers who fail to provide state required workers’ compensation coverage for their employees would have more time to produce records before a Stop-Work Order is issued. They could set up payment plans for insurance coverage and penalties to get the Stop-Work Order Lifted.