OR Ombudsman For Injured Workers Publishes Annual Report

Portland, OR (CompNewsNetwork) - The Office of the Ombudsman for Injured Workers (OIW) is an independent advocate for Oregon injured workers.
The OIW helps injured workers understand their rights and responsibilities, investigates complaints, and works to resolve those complaints. The OIW also provides training and outreach to injured workers and stakeholders to improve awareness of OIW services and to ensure that workers needing help have access to those services regardless of language, disability, or other barriers.
The Legislature established the OIW in 1987. The director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, with the Governor's concurrence, appoints the ombudsman. The ombudsman supervises a staff of seven.
Inquiries and contacts
The OIW closed 11,624 inquiries (requests for information, advice, or assistance) in 2009, 1.9
percent more than in 2008. About 88.4 percent of the inquiries were initiated by the worker, about the same as in recent years, but lower than the 90 percent to 92 percent values of 2000-2005. About 90.7 percent of inquiries were made by telephone. Non-English speakers made about 26.3 percent of inquiries, the highest percentage since 2005's 27.0 percent. Some 78.3 percent of inquiries required no additional contacts to be resolved; the remaining 21.7 percent of inquiries required an average of 2.5 subsequent contacts for resolution. The total number of contacts, including those that originated the inquiries, was 17,869 (4.7 percent more than in 2008).
There were 18,236 issues addressed in the 11,624 inquiries (Table 1), about 1.6 issues per inquiry. The most frequent issues have been much the same from year to year, especially in recent years. In 2006, 2008, and 2009 the five most frequent issues were the same (in 2007, closure issues, instead of litigation, held the fifth most frequent spot). Further, the order of the top five issues (“general claim process” was most frequent, followed by “medical,” etc.) was the same in 2008 and 2009. The top five issues (of 18 possible issues) constituted 59 percent of the issues in inquiries closed in 2009.
Timeliness, assistance, and referrals
The OIW responded to 99.8 percent of inquiries within two days. It completed about 82.6 percent of inquiries the same day, and 91.7 percent within two days. The OIW provided assistance beyond basic information in 23.0 percent of inquiries, above the 2001-2009 average of 20.9 percent. In about 3.5 percent of inquiries, the OIW referred the inquirer to another agency. Approximately 73.7 percent of these referrals were to the Bureau of Labor and Industries.

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