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May 22, 2002

State program refunds nearly $78 million in workers' comp premiums

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

Twenty-nine professional organizations and trade associations will be receiving checks from L&I and distributing 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.

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.

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

"The program is great for both workers and employers," said 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. Employers 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.

For more information, visit the retrospective rating program Web site or contact Frank Romero at 360-902-4835.

NOTE TO EDITORS: More financial information on the refund can be found on L&I's Web site at www.lni.wa.gov/retro/services/Default.htm#FINANCIAL

Refund checks being sent in May are for the first adjustment to plan year July 1999 and second adjustment for July 1998.

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