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Lower workers' comp obligations for Pennsylvania employers

On April 1, 2013, the workers' compensation rates that employers operating in the state of Pennsylvania were required to pay dropped. The decrease represented a 4.01-percent difference that the Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner claimed would represent continuing reductions in operating expenses for the state's employers. According to current estimated projections, the lower rates could result in total premium decreases of $110 million statewide.

Many employers won't see a decrease in their workers' compensation obligations as a result of the change. These obligations are still determined by payrolls, claims experience and other risk classifications that are assessed separately for each individual employer. The Pennsylvania Labor & Industry Secretary claimed that these new rates represented benefits that the state's employers earned by providing their employees with safer workplaces. She cited the establishment of over 10,000 workplace safety committees with state certification but did not address their efficacy at preventing workplace accidents.

Although officials and proponents of the rate change claim that it will benefit businesses, the question of how it will affect injured workers still remains to be seen. If the amount of accidents doesn't significantly decrease by an amount commensurate to the rate changes, then Pennsylvania workers who get hurt may find themselves left with a smaller overall pool of compensation resources to draw benefits from.

Construction site accidents and other industrial incidents such as scaffolding or ladder falls are likely to occur no matter how workplace safety committees improve job site practices. Workers may have to fight harder to obtain benefits, and many will continue to seek legal assistance in order to strengthen their cases.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Pennsylvania's overall workers' comp rates to drop 4.01%," March 29, 2013

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