Hearings Set on Cut in Washington State Comp Costs

L&I said several factors are behind the proposed 2.5 percent decrease in what employers will pay next year, including employers and workers focusing on safety and L&I initiatives that are helping injured workers recover sooner and reducing comp costs.

A series of six public hearings will begin Oct. 24 on a proposed 2.5 percent cut in what employers pay for workers' compensation insurance in Washington state next year by the state Department of Labor & Industries, known as L&I. The proposed cut would result in Washington employers combined paying $67 million less in premiums -- an average of about $34 less per year per employee for comp coverage.

L&I said several factors are behind the proposed decrease, including employers and workers focusing on safety and L&I initiatives that are helping injured workers recover sooner and reducing comp costs. "Efforts to help injured workers heal and return to work are paying off. It's good for them, it helps employers, and it keeps workers' compensation costs down," said Gov. Jay Inslee. "I want to thank businesses and workers for doing their part to improve workplace safety and L&I for its work to improve the workers' compensation system. Both are helping create a positive business climate in Washington."

According to the agency, in recent years it has provided vocational support and assistance much earlier in claims, which is helping to reduce long-term disability and improve return-to-work results for injured workers. The agency's Stay at Work Program is also making a difference, providing employers more than $58 million to help keep more than 25,000 workers on light duty after injuries.

"We've made some very positive steps with our initiatives to help people who are hurt on the job recover and start working again," L&I Director Joel Sacks said. "These and other workplace safety and health improvements have allowed us to build our reserves while at the same time propose a cut to the average premium rate employers and workers pay. It's a win‑win."

The first hearing will be in Everett, with others to follow in Spokane, Richland, Vancouver, Tumwater, and Tukwila. Comments also may be submitted to Jo Anne Attwood, administrative regulations analyst, P. O. Box 41448, Olympia, WA 98504-4148, or by email to joanne.attwood@Lni.wa.gov. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Final rates will be adopted by early December and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

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