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Washington Department of Labor & Industries proposes 1.8 percent average rise in workers’ comp rates in 2015

Posted Thursday, September 18, 2014.

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Washington Department of Labor & Industries proposes 1.8 percent average rise in workers’ comp rates in 2015

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is proposing an average 1.8 percent rate increase for 2015 workers’ compensation premiums, which is just under the current rate of wage inflation. The increase comes out to about one cent per hour worked.

The proposed premium increase will help cover wage and disability benefits, as well as medical costs for treatment of injuries and illnesses. It will also allow L&I to continue to build reserves to protect against the unexpected.

Cutting workers’ compensation costs. “This measured increase will help make sure we have a healthy workers’ compensation system that’s always ready to help workers when they need it,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “The proposal keeps with our long-term plan to keep rates steady and predictable, help injured workers heal and return to work, and reduce costs by improving operations.”

L&I has several initiatives underway to improve its ability to get injured workers healed and back to work while reducing costs and improving service. To do this, the agency is focused on:

· Promoting injury prevention.

· Ensuring injured workers receive quality health care.

· Providing services to support employers who want to keep injured workers on a job.

· Improving the workers’ compensation claims process.

The Stay at Work Program is one example of agency work to help injured workers and employers, and save money. This fall, L&I launched a second campaign to promote the program. Through Stay at Work, the state reimburses employers for part of the cost of providing light-duty work to injured employees. The employees get to keep working and are more likely to recover faster.

Keeping the system healthy and rates steady. L&I is using wage inflation as a benchmark to keep workers’ comp rates steady and predictable. Washington’s most recent wage inflation number is two percent. As wages climb, the cost of providing workers’ compensation coverage rises.

“Raising rates this small amount helps keep costs in check for businesses, helps our system keep up with inflation and assures we have a reserve available for the tough times. It makes good financial sense,” said Sacks.

The public is invited to comment on L&I’s proposed rates at public hearings around the state in October. The final rate decision will be announced by December 1. Complete information is online at www.Rates.Lni.wa.gov.

Source: Washington State Department of Labor & Industries News Release, September 16, 2014.