L&I Proposes 5 Percent Reduction in 2019 Comp Rates

"We've seen a big drop in injuries at work in our state since 2012. And that's great news because preventing injuries and making workplaces safe is our number one goal," said L&I Director Joel Sacks.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has proposed a 5 percent reduction in the average premium employers pay for workers' compensation insurance in 2019. If it is approved, the rate decrease would be the largest drop since 2007 and would mean employers would pay an average of about $58 less a year per employee for workers' comp coverage; employees would pay about $6 less a year for their share of the cost.

L&I reported that the proposed decrease would mean Washington workers and employers, combined, pay $136 million less in premiums.

The public will have an opportunity to provide input about the rate proposal before a final decision is made in December. L&I Director Joel Sacks said decreases in work-related injuries, along with L&I initiatives to improve outcomes for injured workers and reduce costs, have made the system healthier and are contributing to the proposed decrease.

"We've seen a big drop in injuries at work in our state since 2012. And that's great news because preventing injuries and making workplaces safe is our number one goal," he said. "Along with that, we're doing a better job helping injured workers heal and return to work. That's good for workers and employers and helps us lower the cost of workers' compensation coverage."

One example of an effort that's helping workers and employers is L&I's Stay at Work Program, which pays for some of the costs for employers to keep injured workers in light-duty jobs until they fully recover. Since 2012, the program has provided $72 million to employers, which has helped provide 27,000 workers with light-duty jobs while they heal.

Every fall, L&I determines the proposed rate for the following year by looking at several factors, including expected workers' compensation payouts, the size of the contingency reserve, wage inflation, and other financial indicators.

L&I will host three public hearings on the proposed 2019 rates:

  • Tumwater, Oct. 30, 9 a.m., Dept. of Labor & Industries headquarters
  • Tukwila, Oct. 30, 1 p.m., Dept. of Labor & Industries Tukwila office
  • Spokane Valley, Oct. 31, 9 a.m., Spokane CenterPlace

People also can comment in writing to Jo Anne Attwood, administrative regulations analyst, P.O. Box 41448, Olympia, WA 98504-4148; or email Joanne.Attwood@Lni.wa.gov. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 2, 2018.

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