Workers' Comp Safety Incentive Programs
Staff Contact: Ken Pokalsky
July 1, 2009
The Business Council is finalizing comments on proposed regulations implementing workplace safety and loss prevention incentives, as authorized by the 2007 Workers' Comp reform act. We are seeking additional member input on several key issues – discussed below – in finalizing our comments.
This proposal comes in two parts:
- A proposed Department of Insurance regulation that establishes premium discounts; and
- A proposed Department of Labor regulation setting procedural and substantive requirements for workplace safety, alcohol/drug abuse prevention and return to work programs.
Incentives are available in the form of premium discounts for employers covered by commercial carriers, security deposit discounts for self-insured employers, and in the form of contribution discounts for members of self-insured groups.
Both rulemakings are available on our web site at www.bcnys.org/inside/wrkrscom.htm
The Department of Insurance is accepting comments on its discount proposal until Monday, July 6.
The Department of Labor is holding a public hearing on its proposal on its more extensive rulemaking on Monday, July 13 (9:00 AM to 12:30 PM at the State Office Campus, Bldg. 12, Rm 544, Albany, NY), and is accepting comments until July 18.
Discounts – Initial employer program approvals would be for a three year period, with the following discounts:
- For an approved safety incentive program, discounts of 4 percent for year one, two percent for year two, and one percent for year three.
- For an approved drug and alcohol abuse prevention program, discounts of 2 percent for year one, one and one half percent for year two, and one percent for year three.
- For an approved return to work program, discounts of 4 percent for year one, two percent for year two, and one percent for year three.
Key Issue – Do you consider these discounts to be sufficient to encourage adoption and implementation of safety/loss prevention programs?
Program Requirements – The Department of Labor's proposal includes significant procedural requirements, and sets forth mandatory components of applications and approvable programs. For example,
- Safety programs must: evaluate workplace hazards, “minimize or eliminate known and suspected hazards,” include ongoing workplace safety inspections, and provide for employee input on potential hazards.
- Drug/alcohol abuse prevention programs must include: an employee communication plan regarding the program; and a confidential procedures for referring employees to counseling.
- Return to work programs must include: a commitment to providing gainful employment to injured workers “as soon as medically possible;” a policy for making reasonable accommodations to allow injured workers return to their pre-injury job; and a policy for referring employees to vocational rehabilitation and for “providing vocational services” if the injured employee cannot return to their pre-injury job.
Key Issues – How appropriate are these incentive program requirements? Are they specific requirements that would dissuade your business from participating in these programs?
I appreciate any input you have on these two rulemakings. Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.