Last week we posted about how there’s growing concern among some in the workers’ compensation insurance field that the system in Pennsylvania and elsewhere is in such a state of dysfunction that it sorely needs some reform. There are those who are of the opinion that the workers’ compensation system, as it is used by many employers and insurance companies, often causes more harm than good for workers who get injured on the job.
Among the points we see being made by reform advocates is that the drive to create more attractive business environments is pressuring states to do all they can to lower the costs of workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Sometimes the way they’ve done this has been to the detriment of the workers that the insurance has always been intended to help.
Recently, Pennsylvania officials tasked with overseeing this area of business support announced with much fanfare that for the second year running, workers’ compensation rates for businesses are dropping. As of April 1, changes took effect that officials say will see the overall rates in this area decline by about 4 percent. Officials say the lower rate should represent a savings to Pennsylvania employers of about $110 million.
Reports about the announcement didn’t go into a great deal of detail as to why the rates are coming down. Those we saw toed the government’s line that credits employers with creating safer workplaces. The head of the state’s Department of Labor and Industry specifically noted the expansion of state-certified workplace safety committees.
She said there are now more than 10,000 such groups operating in the state and she credits them with improving the safety of more than 1 million workers and saving employers $500 million in workers’ compensation premiums. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the overall state workforce is about 5.5 million people as of May of last year.
While the news from the state represents a positive trend for business and suggests worker safety is better, there are those who might argue that the best test of a system is how it performs under stress. By that measure, many likely can attest, getting the system to deliver on its stated mission may require the assistance of experienced legal counsel.
Source: Insurance Journal, “Pennsylvania’s Overall Workers’ Comp Rates to Drop 4.01%,” March 29, 2013
- The subject of this post reflects areas of law addressed by our practice. To learn more, you’re invited to visit our Bucks County workers’ compensation page.