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L&I proposes workers’-comp rate increase for 2017

The rate paid for workers’ compensation coverage in Washington would rise by an average of 0.7 percent next year under a proposal released by L&I...

The rate paid for workers’-compensation coverage in Washington would rise by an average of 0.7 percent next year under a proposal released by L&I. For construction risk classification, the proposed 2017 rates range from a 12-percent decrease for the Pile Construction, Wharf Pier & Dock Construction, Diving Operations category to a 12-percent increase for the Painting: Building and Structures Exterior Work category.

For a list of proposed rates by risk classification, click here.

L&I sets workers’ compensation rates every fall for the following year. To determine the proposed rate, the agency takes a close look at expected workers’-compensation payouts, the size of the reserve fund, wage inflation and other financial indicators.

“We’re doing our best to make sure we have a workers’ compensation system in our state that’s healthy and available for workers and employers today and in the future,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “By helping injured workers heal and get back to work sooner, we’ve been able to keep rates steady and predictable.”

The proposed 2017 increase would cost employers an average of about $10 more a year per employee.

AGC appreciates L&I’s efforts to flatten-out rates as well as the need to bolster reserves, and also understands that Washington State’s system, because it is based on hours worked rather than wages as is the case in other states, does not have a built-in adjustment. However, AGC also believes that rates could be even lower if the Legislature were to enact additional reforms, such as lowering the age at which workers can negotiate a structured settlement in lieu of lifetime pensions, and common sense improvements to occupational disease rules.

The agency will hold a series of public hearings where people can learn about and comment on the proposed rates. The hearings are scheduled for 

  • Vancouver   Oct. 26, 9 a.m., Marshal Community Center
  • Tukwila   Oct. 27, 9 a.m., Dept. of Labor & Industries
  • Everett   Nov. 1, 9 a.m., Everett Community College
  • Spokane Valley   Nov. 2, 9 a.m., Spokane CenterPlace
  • Richland   Nov. 3, 9 a.m., Richland Community Center
  • Tumwater   Nov. 4, 9 a.m., Dept. of Labor & Industries Headquarters

People can also comment in writing to Jo Anne Attwood, administrative regulations analyst, P. O. Box 41448, Olympia, WA 98504-4148; or email

All comments must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 8, 2016. Final rates will be adopted by early December and go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

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