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September 26, 2012

Experience Rating System changes

Safety First | Mike McKenna

There is the saying that "safety pays", but for years safety has been seen as just another operational expense for some in the B.C. construction industry. Now, a change to WorkSafeBC's Experience Rating (ER) System means the safer you are, the fewer premiums you pay.

Employers who have fewer serious injuries, and whose employees Return To Work (RTW) sooner after an injury, can earn discounts on their base rate of up to 50 per cent over time.

Alternatively, firms with more frequent and more serious injuries and inefficient RTW systems may face surcharges of up to 100 per cent on their base rate over time.

Mike McKenna

Safety First

Mike McKenna

Starting in 2013 WorkSafeBC’s experience rating system for construction (currently capped at 33.3 per cent surcharge and 33.3 per cent rebate) will begin to rise, eventually reaching the 100 per cent surcharge and 50 per cent discount mark by 2016.

The change will align construction with all other provincial industries.

While the vast majority of construction employers are expected to experience a smooth transition to the new rates (indeed, many will benefit from higher discounts) there are those who will pay significantly more, as the surcharge ceiling is raised.

That is, unless they take action to improve current safety and injury management systems.

Many contractors I’ve talked to are glad about the change.

Some contractors feel there have been many years that companies, who operate with health and safety excellence, have had to pay for companies with poor safety or for whom safety is not a priority.

However, we are focusing on the workers and the families, who have lost loved ones that have had to pay the ultimate price.

With worker safety as our number one priority, the B.C. Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA) is concerned with reducing injuries all-together and improving safety.

The alliance is leading an outreach initiative that will offer at-risk employers the opportunity to work directly with BCCSA Regional Safety Co-ordinators to prepare for the changes to come.

Our safety advisors will visit the jobsite to help employers identify ways to reduce accidents and improve safety.

One of the most effective ways to prevent injuries is to develop and implement a health and safety and injury management program.

One way to do this is by guiding companies through the Certificate of Recognition (COR) program.

COR is a program that encourages companies to implement health and safety and injury management systems that meet regulatory requirements and maintain them through annual independent audits.

It recognizes and rewards employers through up to a 15 per cent incentive payment that is applied to a company’s WorkSafeBC base assessments.

For example, a COR Certified company with a payroll of $750,000 could receive an incentive payment of up to $4,800 dollars annually.

For companies worried about the cost of doing business, especially in light of the WorkSafeBC premium changes, COR could help.

Construction employers in B.C. need to recognize that the best way to reduce insurance costs is to prevent injuries. But, ultimately, keeping workers safe is just the right thing to do.

The BCCSA is the construction industry’s non-profit safety association, which provides no-cost services designed to help reduce injuries and improve safety.

For more information on the initiative, which is being offered in partnership with WorkSafeBC, or to access the BCCSA’s regional safety co-ordinator service call 1-877-860-3675 toll-free.

Mike McKenna, is the executive director of the British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance. Direct comments and questions to editor@journalofcommerce.com.

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