2015 ORS 656.726¹
Duties and powers to carry out workers compensation and occupational safety laws
  • rules

(1) The Workers Compensation Board in its name and the Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Services in the directors name as director may sue and be sued, and each shall have a seal.

(2) The board hereby is charged with reviewing appealed orders of Administrative Law Judges in controversies concerning a claim arising under this chapter, exercising own motion jurisdiction under this chapter and providing such policy advice as the director may request, and providing such other review functions as may be prescribed by law. To that end any of its members or assistants authorized thereto by the members shall have power to:

(a) Hold sessions at any place within the state.

(b) Administer oaths.

(c) Issue and serve by the boards representatives, or by any sheriff, subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of papers, contracts, books, accounts, documents and testimony before any hearing under ORS 654.001 (Short title) to 654.295 (Application of Oregon Safe Employment Act), 654.412 (Definitions for ORS 654.412 to 654.423) to 654.423 (Use of physical force by home health care employee in self-defense against assault), 654.750 (Definitions for ORS 654.750 to 654.780) to 654.780 (Providing basic information to employees) and this chapter.

(d) Generally provide for the taking of testimony and for the recording of proceedings.

(3) The board chairperson is hereby charged with the administration of and responsibility for the Hearings Division.

(4) The director hereby is charged with duties of administration, regulation and enforcement of ORS 654.001 (Short title) to 654.295 (Application of Oregon Safe Employment Act), 654.412 (Definitions for ORS 654.412 to 654.423) to 654.423 (Use of physical force by home health care employee in self-defense against assault), 654.750 (Definitions for ORS 654.750 to 654.780) to 654.780 (Providing basic information to employees) and this chapter. To that end the director may:

(a) Make and declare all rules and issue orders which are reasonably required in the performance of the directors duties. Unless otherwise specified by law, all reports, claims or other documents shall be deemed timely provided to the director or board if mailed by regular mail or delivered within the time required by law. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the director may adopt rules to allow for the electronic transmission and filing of reports, claims or other documents required to be filed under this chapter and to require the electronic transmission and filing of proof of coverage required under ORS 656.419 (Workers compensation insurance contracts), 656.423 (Cancellation of coverage by employer) and 656.427 (Termination of workers compensation insurance contract or surety bond liability by insurer). Notwithstanding ORS 183.310 (Definitions for chapter) to 183.410 (Agency determination of applicability of rule or statute to petitioner), if a matter comes before the director that is not addressed by rule and the director finds that adoption of a rule to accommodate the matter would be inefficient, unreasonable or unnecessarily burdensome to the public, the director may resolve the matter by issuing an order, subject to review under ORS 656.704 (Actions and orders regarding matters concerning claim and matters other than matters concerning claim). Such order shall not have precedential effect as to any other situation.

(b) Hold sessions at any place within the state.

(c) Administer oaths.

(d) Issue and serve by representatives of the director, or by any sheriff, subpoenas for the attendance of witnesses and the production of papers, contracts, books, accounts, documents and testimony in any inquiry, investigation, proceeding or rulemaking hearing conducted by the director or the directors representatives. The director may require the attendance and testimony of employers, their officers and representatives in any inquiry under this chapter, and the production by employers of books, records, papers and documents without the payment or tender of witness fees on account of such attendance.

(e) Generally provide for the taking of testimony and for the recording of such proceedings.

(f) Provide standards for the evaluation of disabilities. The following provisions apply to the standards:

(A) The criterion for evaluation of permanent impairment under ORS 656.214 (Permanent partial disability) is the loss of use or function of a body part or system due to the compensable industrial injury or occupational disease. Permanent impairment is expressed as a percentage of the whole person. The impairment value may not exceed 100 percent of the whole person.

(B) Impairment is established by a preponderance of medical evidence based upon objective findings.

(C) The criterion for evaluation of work disability under ORS 656.214 (Permanent partial disability) is permanent impairment as modified by the factors of age, education and adaptability to perform a given job.

(D) When, upon reconsideration of a notice of closure pursuant to ORS 656.268 (Claim closure), it is found that the workers disability is not addressed by the standards adopted pursuant to this paragraph, notwithstanding ORS 656.268 (Claim closure), the director shall, in the order on reconsideration, determine the extent of permanent disability that addresses the workers impairment.

(E) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, only impairment benefits shall be awarded under ORS 656.214 (Permanent partial disability) if the worker has been released to regular work by the attending physician or nurse practitioner authorized to provide compensable medical services under ORS 656.245 (Medical services to be provided) or has returned to regular work at the job held at the time of injury.

(g) Prescribe procedural rules for and conduct hearings, investigations and other proceedings pursuant to ORS 654.001 (Short title) to 654.295 (Application of Oregon Safe Employment Act), 654.412 (Definitions for ORS 654.412 to 654.423) to 654.423 (Use of physical force by home health care employee in self-defense against assault), 654.750 (Definitions for ORS 654.750 to 654.780) to 654.780 (Providing basic information to employees) and this chapter regarding all matters other than those specifically allocated to the board or the Hearings Division.

(h) Participate fully in any proceeding before the Hearings Division, board or Court of Appeals in which the director determines that the proceeding involves a matter that affects or could affect the discharge of the directors duties of administration, regulation and enforcement of ORS 654.001 (Short title) to 654.295 (Application of Oregon Safe Employment Act), 654.412 (Definitions for ORS 654.412 to 654.423) to 654.423 (Use of physical force by home health care employee in self-defense against assault), 654.750 (Definitions for ORS 654.750 to 654.780) to 654.780 (Providing basic information to employees) and this chapter.

(5)(a) The board may make and declare all rules which are reasonably required in the performance of its duties, including but not limited to rules of practice and procedure in connection with hearing and review proceedings and exercising its authority under ORS 656.278 (Board has continuing authority to alter earlier action on claim). The board shall adopt standards governing the format and timing of the evidence. The standards shall be uniformly followed by all Administrative Law Judges and practitioners. The rules may provide for informal prehearing conferences in order to expedite claim adjudication, amicably dispose of controversies, if possible, narrow issues and simplify the method of proof at hearings. The rules shall specify who may appear with parties at prehearing conferences and hearings.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the board may adopt rules to allow for the electronic transmission of filings, reports, notices and other documents required to be filed under the boards authority.

(6) The director and the board chairperson may incur such expenses as they respectively determine are reasonably necessary to perform their authorized functions.

(7) The director, the board chairperson and the State Accident Insurance Fund Corporation shall have the right, not subject to review, to contract for the exchange of, or payment for, such services between them as will reduce the overall cost of administering this chapter.

(8) The director shall have lien and enforcement powers regarding assessments to be paid by subject employers in the same manner and to the same extent as is provided for lien and enforcement of collection of premiums and assessments by the corporation under ORS 656.552 (Deposit of cash, bond or letter of credit to secure payment of employers premiums) to 656.566 (Lien on property of employer for amounts due).

(9) The director shall have the same powers regarding inspection of books, records and payrolls of employers as are granted the corporation under ORS 656.758 (Inspection of books, records and payrolls). The director may disclose information obtained from such inspections to the Director of the Department of Revenue to the extent the Director of the Department of Revenue requires such information to determine that a person complies with the revenue and tax laws of this state and to the Director of the Employment Department to the extent the Director of the Employment Department requires such information to determine that a person complies with ORS chapter 657.

(10) The director shall collect hours-worked data information in addition to total payroll for workers engaged in various jobs in the construction industry classifications described in the job classification portion of the Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Manual and the Oregon Special Rules Section published by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The information shall be collected in the form and format necessary for the National Council on Compensation Insurance to analyze premium equity. [Formerly 656.410; 1977 c.804 §30; 1979 c.677 §2; 1979 c.839 §20; 1981 c.535 §45; 1981 c.723 §5; 1981 c.854 §49a; 1981 c.876 §9; 1985 c.600 §16; 1985 c.706 §4; 1985 c.770 §4; 1987 c.884 §2; 1990 c.2 §40; 1995 c.332 §55; amendments by 1995 c.332 §55a repealed by 1999 c.6 §1; 1999 c.313 §10; 1999 c.876 §9; 2003 c.170 §7; 2003 c.171 §1; 2003 c.657 §§3,4; 2003 c.811 §§17,18; 2005 c.26 §§16,17; 2005 c.653 §§1,2a; 2007 c.241 §§4,5; 2007 c.270 §§7,8; 2007 c.274 §2; 2013 c.162 §1]

Note: See notes under 656.202 (Compensation payable to subject worker in accordance with law in effect at time of injury).

Notes of Decisions

Workers Compensa­tion Board had authority to require, by rule, prompt compliance with claimants request for docu­ments and to consider noncompliance as unreasonable delay within meaning of ORS 656.262 (Processing of claims and payment of compensation) (8). Morgan v. Stimson Lumber Co., 288 Or 595, 607 P2d 150 (1980)

Director of Depart­ment of Insurance and Finance had authority to adopt rule regulating pay­ment to physicians for deposi­tion testimony. Black v. Dept. of Insurance and Finance, 108 Or App 437, 816 P2d 652 (1991), Sup Ct review denied

Standards for evaluating disabilities adopted by Depart­ment of Insurance and Finance which gave no value to factors of age, educa­tion, training and adaptability when worker has returned to his usual and customary work were not inconsistent with ORS 656.214 (Permanent partial disability). Harrison v. Taylor Lumbering & Treating, Inc., 111 Or App 325, 826 P2d 75 (1992)

Where disability is not addressed by existing standards, Director of Depart­ment of Consumer and Business Services is re­quired to stay further pro­ceed­ings and adopt temporary rules. Gallino v. Courtesy Pontiac-Buick-GMC, 124 Or App 538, 863 P2d 530 (1993)

Workers Compensa­tion Board has authority to remand order to Director of Depart­ment of Consumer and Business Services where disability requires develop­ment of temporary rule. Gallino v. Courtesy Pontiac-Buick-GMC, 124 Or App 538, 863 P2d 530 (1993)

Where one or more factors to be considered exceed zero, assign­ment of zero value to factors taken as whole does not fulfill require­ment for modifying impair­ment. Carroll v. Boise Cascade Corp., 138 Or App 610, 910 P2d 1111 (1996)

Require­ment that criterion for evalua­tion of disability be permanent impair­ment as modified by age, educa­tion and adaptability factors does not require that all impair­ments, including chronic condi­tions, be rated prior to modifica­tion. Schultz v. Springfield Forest Products, 151 Or App 727, 951 P2d 169 (1997)

Workers Compensa­tion Board has authority to review validity of rule of Director of Depart­ment of Consumer and Business Services to determine whether rule is consistent with statute. Schultz v. Springfield Forest Products, 151 Or App 727, 951 P2d 169 (1997)

Temporary rule adopted to address disability not addressed by existing standards must be di­rected to claimants particular impair­ment, not category of impair­ment generally. Shubert v. Blue Chips, 330 Or 554, 9 P3d 114 (2000)

Temporary rule that assigns zero value for claimants impair­ment qualifies as standard that accommodates impair­ment. May v. Multnomah County Animal Control, 177 Or App 218, 33 P3d 387 (2001)

For purposes of determining whether impair­ment is only factor to consider in determining workers disability, when worker is terminated for cause, availability is not factor to be considered in determining workers disability. Suchi v. SAIF, 238 Or App 48, 241 P3d 1174 (2010), Sup Ct review denied

For purposes of determining whether impair­ment is only factor to consider in determining workers disability, end of seasonal employ­ment constitutes termina­tion of employ­ment unless claimant proffers evidence that claimant would have been entitled to return to work after seasonal layoff. Suchi v. SAIF, 238 Or App 48, 241 P3d 1174 (2010), Sup Ct review denied

Worker who has been released for work by attending physician or nurse practi­tioner, but who is unable to return to work for cause not related to injury, is not entitled to work disability. Suchi v. SAIF, 238 Or App 48, 241 P3d 1174 (2010), Sup Ct review denied

Law Review Cita­tions

32 WLR 217 (1996)

Law Review Cita­tions

55 OLR 432-445 (1976); 16 WLR 519 (1979); 22 WLR 559 (1986)

Chapter 656

Notes of Decisions

Party having af­firm­a­tive of any issue must prove it by preponderance of evidence unless legislature fixes some different quantum of proof. Hutcheson v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 288 Or 51, 602 P2d 268 (1979)

Amend­ments to existing statutes and enact­ment of addi­tional statutes by 1995 legisla­tion generally apply to pending cases and to orders still ap­pealable on June 7, 1995, effective date. Volk v. America West Air­lines, 135 Or App 565, 899 P2d 746 (1995), Sup Ct review denied

Amend­ments to existing statutes and enact­ment of addi­tional statutes by 1995 legisla­tion do not extend or shorten procedural time limita­tions with regard to ac­tions taken prior to June 7, 1995, effective date. Motel 6 v. McMasters, 135 Or App 583, 899 P2d 1212 (1995)

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Benefit unavailability for inmates engaged in prison work programs, (1996) Vol 48, p 134

Law Review Cita­tions

24 WLR 321, 341 (1988); 32 WLR 217 (1996)


1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 656—Workers Compensation, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors656.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2015, Chapter 656, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano656.­html (2015) (last ac­cessed Jul. 16, 2016).
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.