Workers' Comp Rate Increase \Takes the Wind Out of Our Sails\

Several AGC members (see list below) took the time to testify at hearings around the state regarding the proposed increase in workers’ comp rates. These members protested this increase during such difficult economic times and called for major reforms of the system.

“There is no good time for an increase but this is the absolute worst time for an increase” said Quigg Bros. Inc.’s Rick Hadley at the hearing in Tumwater. Hadley said his company has been making ever-greater investments in jobsite safety. “This increase absolutely takes the wind out of our sails” he said. “Just when we think our good work will pay economic dividends we get hit with this. We ask you (L&I) to partner with us to help us survive.”

The Tumwater hearing was televised by TVW and the video of the entire two-hour hearing is posted on its website here. Below are clips solely of the testimony by Hadley and Jim Bozich of United Pacific Structures.

In his testimony Bozich presented a real-world workers’ comp challenge that is plaguing his company as evidence of the need for reform. “What I see is really ineffective claims management” he said. “There is no desire on the claims manager’s part to see an end to this claim.”

One of the reforms that AGC has called for is final settlement agreements that allow workers employers and L&I the option to settle and release claims for a lump sum. Washington is in a tiny minority of states that forbids this proven mechanism for claim resolution.

Other reforms AGC is seeking are:

Better define Occupational Disease. Rule out non-work related conditions like growing older. Washington has one of the broadest occupational disease definitions in the country.

Establish Medical Provider Networks. Injured workers deserve access to medical providers trained and experienced in treating their particular condition – who will adhere to evidence based guidelines for medical treatment - as is the practice in 42 other states. Build on the successful Centers of Occupational Health and Education (COHE) program to make these networks available to Washington’s injured workers statewide.

L&I will announce the final rate decision in early December. Workers’ comp reform will be a top priority for AGC during the 2010 legislative session.

AGC thanks these members who testified at the recent public hearings:

Aimee Bergeson Chervenell Construction Co.
Delton Bonds Mountain States Construction Co.
Jim Bozich United Pacific Structures Inc.
Shannan Cambern Hos Bros Construction
Pat Frombach Western Refinery Services
Rick Hadley Quigg Bros. Inc.
Jeff Money American Electrical Services
Ray Pierce Diamond B Constructors
Jeff Pounds Breedt Production Tooling and Design
Joe Wilson Pederson Bros. Inc.