Workers Comp Zone


Readers of my last post know that I’ll currently in Indo-China. Northwest Cambodia, specifically, at the moment.

Looking across the Pacific, the past week seems to have been a sleepy one in California workers’comp. The biggest development is that the California Court of Appeal 1st District has agreed to hear a constitutional challenge to the 24 session cap on chiropractic & physical therapy treatments (caution: 2007 legislation loosened the caps in post surgical cases). More on that constitutional challenge at a later time.

Back to Cambodia for the moment, though. The country is emerging from a long nightmare of genocide and war. A short history for those who might be interested: Over a million people perished at the hand of the Khymer Rouge in the mid to late 70s. The Khymer Rouge had been a leftist insurgency against Prince Sihanouk. Under Nixon the U.S. backed Lon Nol’s installation in power. Nixon expanded the war into Cambodia, dropping huges amounts of ordnance on Viet Cong supply routes in what became the “sideshow war”” (a 3rd ring of the circus was unfolding in Laos, of course).

My cousin, an American helicopter pilot, perished in the early days of the U.S. incursion into Cambodia.

In 1975 the capital, Phnom Penh, fell to the Khymer Rouge.
If you’ve seen the film The Killing Fields”, you know what occured.Phnom Penh was reduced to a population of a few thousand as everyone was forced into the countryside. Intellectuals, professionals, labor activists, journalists-all perished as the Khmer attempted to take the country back to an agrarian ground zero.

From the late 70’s to the late 80’s the Chinese-backed Khymer Rouge were at war with the Vietnamese. The country became one big land mine dump.

Here (unlike much of Asia) you can see beautiful blue sky. The countryside is pristine, unspoilt by the kind of breakneck development devouring much of Asia. On such a pretty day, amidst 10th to 12th century Hindu and Buddhist temples and people with such graceful, warm smiles, it’s hard to believe Cambodia went through such travails.

The country now has at least the trappings of democracy. There are elections, although a strong-man President and crony politicians seemingly dominate at this time. Some of the Khymer Rouge are still hanging around, and a justice process proceeds slowly.

To this day workers, children, and farmers are getting maimed and killed by tripping landmines. Several international foundations are working on the problem, but it’s a big country and there were hundreds of thousands of mines.

Which brings us to workers comp. My guide noted that several workers building a Bangkok to Phnom Penh highway
were killed in the last several weeks after their truck came in contact with a buried land mine.

My guide is a bright young 22 year old with fluent English. He’s the future of Cambodia. After all, pretty much everyone here is young, gen-next or gen-X. By and large the older people just didn’t make it.

He’s not a lawyer, so I can’t say this is definitive.
But I asked him what happens if you’re hurt or killed on the job here. Does the government fund medical care and some sort of wage replacement benefits for injured workers? The answer? No.

Apparently there’s no workers comp system. Nothing.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments