Washington Refunds Nearly $78 Million in Workers' Comp\rPremiums

It's a lucky day for many employers in the state of Washington.

But as they say, luck is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration, and the "lucky" Washington employers worked hard for their money.

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is returning more than $78 million in workers' compensation premiums to Washington employers and associations enrolled in retrospective rating plans.

The Retrospective Rating program is an optional program within the state's workers' compensation system. It allows qualified employers and associations to earn refunds for reducing workplace injuries by meeting agreed upon goals such as safety education, hazard reduction and improved management of claims from injured workers. The employers receiving checks this month met their goals.

Since the Retrospective Rating program began in 1981, the program refunded more than $1 billion to participants. Refunds are distributed four times a year.

"The program is great for both workers and employers," says Frank Romero, manager of the Retrospective Rating Program. "Employers are motivated to create a safer work environment and provide greater support for workers when they are injured. It can increase their productivity and reduce workers' compensation premium costs."

Employers can participate in retrospective rating on their own or through group plans sponsored by professional organizations or trade associations. They have four opportunities to enroll in the program each year. Depending on their performance, employers could see refunds as early as 10 months after an enrollment period.

Nearly 16,000 employers currently participate in retrospective rating options. While most receive a refund, some don't meet their goals and have to pay more. L&I has assessed seven program participants, with worse-than-expected safety records, an additional $4.8 million in premiums.

Twenty-nine professional organizations and trade associations receive checks from L&I and distribute the refunds to member employers who participate in their programs. As in past years, the Building Industry

Association of Washington (BIAW) will get the largest check - nearly $29 million.

For more information about the retrospective rating program, see the Web site at www.lni.wa.gov/retro or contact Frank Romero at (360) 902-4835.

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