Every October, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff. One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. Year after year, thousands of the same on-the-job hazards are cited, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.
What’s Up 40%?
You think it’s your energy bills, wish it was your sales, but actually, it is your workers’ compensation insurance! Last year workers’ compensation premiums increased about 40% and this year it is expected to be up 30%. California amended its workers’ compensation law in 1995 to provide a more competitive field for insurance companies, thereby reducing the premiums for employers. In 1995, the law that required employers to pay workers’ compensation insurance was modified to an open rating system from a rate fixed by the state. The 1995 regulations sparked a price war amongst insurance companies much to the delight of employers. However, the premiums that went down about 50% in the year following the deregulation are up about 8% from the pre-deregulation days.
Insurance companies have reportedly increased the premiums to cover up their losses. Last year they lost about $3 billion in California alone. To make matters worse, some of them went belly-up or left the business in the state to minimize their exposure. For example, the second largest writer of workers’ compensation insurance in California, Fremont General Corp., is now under voluntary state supervision for its poor financial condition. Another reason was that when the stock market headed south, many insurance companies that had their fortunes tied up in the market got pummeled.