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May 21, 1998

Safety pays for Colt Construction -- $206,000 refund from state program

TUMWATER – Colt Construction Co. of Bellingham will receive a $206,000 workers’ compensation premium refund from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries owing to the company’s success at keeping its workplace safe.

Labor & Industries will present Colt President Bruce Lierman with a refund check at
1 p.m. May 27 at company headquarters at 3810 Bakerview Spur. The $206,000 represents 75 percent of the premium the company paid for workers’ compensation coverage between July 1996 and June 1997.

A refund percentage that high is a significant accomplishment, according to Susan Kinney, the coordinator for the northern region of Labor & Industries’ retrospective rating program. The average premium refund for employers during 1996 was 22 percent.

Colt earned the refund through its participation in the retrospective rating program. This allows employers the opportunity to garner refunds on premiums paid provided claims costs from workplace accidents are held below an agreed-upon level during a particular time frame. Reducing accidents and illnesses is a key to the effort.

Dave Owen, Colt’s corporate safety director, attributed the company’s success at cutting workplace accidents to an emphasis on accountability, communication and training.

"Safety starts at the top and works its way to every worker in the field," Owen said. "Safety is just as important as quality and production."

Success built steadily over several years. Owen said Colt began a concentrated safety effort in 1990 after experiencing "a lot" of accidents and injuries.

"We decided then that it was time to turn around our safety record," Owen said.

Colt just completed a two-year period of 2.25 million worker hours without a lost-time accident, Owen said, which is considered remarkable for a company in the construction business. Colt averages between 400 to 500 workers throughout the year with employment rising to 800 during peak seasons.

Owen said the $206,000 refund would be used for additional training and safety activities.

Labor & Industries manages the workers’ compensation system in Washington. It provides coverage to 157,000 employers and 1.3 million workers.

In 1997, the department refunded a record $121 million to employers participating in the retrospective rating program. Since the program’s inception in 1981, Labor & Industries has returned $583 million to employers.

Currently, more than 14,000 employers take part in the program.


For media information, contact: 
L&I Public Affairs at 360-902-5400 or publicaffairs@lni.wa.gov

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