A bill that would speed the process of dealing with worker compensation claims involving occupational illnesses has received a favorable recommendation from a House committee.

SB107 is designed to hasten the resolution of those cases if the parties involved agree on the facts. It would eliminate the need to appoint a medical panel in those cases, the bill's sponsor, Sen. Ed Mayne, D-West Valley City, told the House Business and Labor Standing Committee on Tuesday.

Mayne said the bill was suggested by the Utah Labor Commission's Workers' Compensation Advisory Council.

"This will eliminate a lot of delays in the resolution of those cases," he said.

Tom Bingham, president of the Utah Manufacturers Association and a council member, backed SB107. "This is an agreed and necessary measure," he told the committee.

The bill amends the Utah Labor Code. Medical panels are appointed by administrative law judges in occupational disease cases and attempt to determine the cause of the illness and the percentage of the illness that was caused by work-related activities.

The bill is expected to cut occupational-disease referrals to medical panels by about half, saving about $40,000 annually in panel fees. Those fees are funded by the Uninsured Employers Fund, which gets its money through an assessment against all insured or self-insured employers.

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