L&I proposes 2 percent average increase in workers’-comp rates for 2016

The Department of Labor and Industries proposed a two percent average increase in workers’ comp rates for next year. For construction categories, the proposed rates range from a decrease of 12 percent for Bridge, Bulkhead and Tunnel Construction to an increase of 10 percent for the Wallboard Installation-Undiscounted Rate category. For the list of proposed rates for all risk classifications, click here.

“Eliminating major swings in rates makes it much easier for business owners to budget for their workers’-comp costs,” said L&I Director Joel Sacks. “And by using wage inflation as a benchmark, we can keep up with rising costs of providing insurance while making sure we have a reserve fund ready for tough times.”

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, with final rates adopted by early December and put into effect Jan. 1, 2016. Hearings are scheduled for

· Tumwater   Oct. 26, 10 a.m., Dept. of Labor & Industries Auditorium

· Vancouver WA   Oct. 26, 10 a.m., NW Regional Training Center

· Tukwila   Oct. 27, 10 a.m., Tukwila Community Center

· Everett   Oct. 28, 10 a.m., Everett Community College

· Spokane   Oct. 29, 9 a.m., Spokane CenterPlace

· Richland   Oct. 30, 9 a.m., Richland Community Center

Comments may also be submitted in writing to Jo Anne Attwood, Administrative Regulations Analyst, PO Box 41448, Olympia WA 98504-4148; or email her at joanne.attwood@Lni.wa.gov. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. Nov. 3, 2015.

More information regarding the proposal is available at www.Lni.wa.gov/Rates.