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Workers’ comp pressure on

PUTTING the onus on employers to improve safety will reduce WA’s workers’ compensation crisis, says Safety First’s Kevin York.

Mr York said there was nothing currently in legislation to force an employer to change workplace practice after an employee made a workers’ compensation claim.

“It’s almost too easy to make a claim,” Mr York said.

“Once the claim is made it becomes the insurance company’s problem.”

The WA Government has started issuing WorkSafe certificates to companies that put in a system which is proven to reduce workplace injuries.

SGIO general manager commercial Garry Moore admitted there were no systems in place to immediately reward employers for improving safety.

“It’s not like house insurance where you put in deadlocks and get immediate premium discounts,” Mr Moore said.

“Such programs can take twelve to eighteen months to flow through.”

However, insurance companies can load an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance premiums by up to 100 per cent if he has a bad claims history.

“A company’s claims experiences count towards a premium discount,” Mr Moore said.

“Also, if a company puts in fewer claims than expected for the year, it can have the difference back in the form of a rebate.”

The employers’ workers’ compensation burden has become easier in the past few months.

On 5 October the Workers’ Compensation Act was changed and perhaps the biggest win for employers was the closing of the second gateway.

Initially, the second gateway was designed to give a person who sustained an injury that resulted in a less than 30 per cent incapacitation but a significant loss of future income an access to common law.

However, it was found the second gateway resulted in a huge cost build up for the workers’ compensation system.

Now a worker has to prove a 16 per cent total body incapacitation and then elect to enter the common law arena.

These changes to the Act resulted in an almost immediate recommendation from the Premium Rates Committee to reduce rates by 10 per cent.

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