Employers Think Insurance Boards Funding Fairness Report is Unfair

 

The Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s recently released review of the province’s workers compensation system has raised several questions and indicated challenges still lie ahead, according to the Ontario Trucking Association.
 
The nearly-200-page “Funding Fairness” report, conducted by law professor, Dr. Harry Arthurs, was designed to give direction to the WSIB for the next 15-20 years and restore the system to financial health. But the report looks only at funding issues, not expenditures – a concern the Ontario Trucking Association and other employer groups raised during the consultations with Dr. Arthurs last year. The report did contain a chapter on the subject; however, due to the mandate, no recommendations were given.(WCx)
 
 
In response to the report, and issues related to unfunded liability, Ontario Minister of Labour Linda Jeffrey announced the provincial government would introduce a new regulation under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to require the WSIB's insurance fund to reach sufficiency of 60% funding in 2017, 80% funding in 2022 and 100% funding by 2027.
 
 
However, the OTA notes: “What she didn’t say, but which is implicit in the report, is the way the WSIB is going to reach these targets is by increasing premiums, which are paid solely by employers.”
 
One of Dr. Arthur’s recommendations is that WSIB premiums should be based on actual costs, not whether rates are affordable. He says there should be no government interference with rate setting unless the province is experiencing a severe economic crisis. He also recommends each rate group should pay the full current and future costs of new claims, which the WSIB must accurately price.
 
It goes on to say that the current rate groups should be replaced with sectorial groups. This would take place over the next several years with appropriate transitional measures to avoid sudden premium rate increases, according to the report.
 
Additionally, the report raises questions over the future of experience rating programs. Dr. Arthurs’ recommends, for example, that experience rating should be maintained only if the board declares the purpose is injury reduction and return to work; it achieves these purposes; and is resourced to prevent abuses. He calls for a time-limited experience-rating experiment to be conducted in one industry.
 
Other recommendations include the reestablishment of medical/scientific panel to identify occupational disease and the full indexing of all benefits.
 
It will be imperative that meaningful consultation with employers takes place,” says OTA president David Bradley. “If the WSIB administration has already made up its mind what it is going to implement from the Arthurs report and how it is going to do it, then the process will be doomed to failure. These are enormously important issues. Employers want a better system too, but we cannot afford to sign a blank check.
 
Gutting experience rating programs is not the answer,” Bradley continued. “We’ve got to make sure that all employers are paying their fair share and I don’t see how anyone can talk about the future sustainability of the WSIB without dealing with the expenditure side of things.”(WCx)
 
 
The release of the report has prompted OTA to form a WSIB issues committee to help guide the association’s analysis and positioning on these issues over the next couple of years. 

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com Contact mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com

  
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MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Looking for a Little Summer Spending Cash, Not a Workers Comp Claim

Ontario recently launched a four-month blitz to ensure students are safe and do not get injured while working on their summer jobs.

Beginning this spring, an enforcement blitz is targeting workplaces where new and young workers are employed. Health and safety inspectors from the Ministry of Labor will check that employers comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.[WCx]
The blitz will ensure young workers:
  • Are protected by required safety measures, equipment and procedures to prevent injuries
  • Are properly instructed, trained and supervised on jobs
  • Meet minimum age requirements.
The inspectors will shut down unsafe work sites when necessary and employers could face fines through the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Protecting young people on the job is part of the McGuinty government’s continued commitment to prevent workplace injuries through its Safe at Work Ontario strategy.

 

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their Workers Compensation costs by 20% – 50%.  He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Contact: Mstack@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

 

 

WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT MANUAL:  www.WCManual.com
MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.

 

©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Ontario Volunteer Fire Department Gets Burned

A rare prosecution involving a small Ontario (Canada) town's volunteer fire department has ignited concern among firefighters that legal hazards may now be among the dangers they must deal with in responding to emergencies, according to a report from The Canadian Press.

 
The case is the result of an early morning restaurant fire  when volunteer firefighters arrived to the frantic screams of a woman claiming her boyfriend was trapped in the apartment upstairs. (WCxKit)
 
 
A pair of firefighters from Meaford entered the building. One finished his shift at another job the evening before and went inside. As the building burned, one of them ''lost air,'' although it has not been determined why.
 
 
In the ensuing mayhem, they were unable to get out and, with one near death, had to be rescued by colleagues.
 
 
The department is now on trial on a trio of charges the provincial Ministry of Labour laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
 
 
In essence, the ministry asserts that Meaford did not take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of the duo.
 
 
Now that the prosecution has made its case in Ontario court in Owen Sound, Ont., the defense was set to call for the judge to throw the case out for lack of evidence. A decision was under review.
 
 
The defense argues the safety guidelines Meaford allegedly failed to follow are not legally binding, and says the ministry gave a no-prosecution promise at the start of the investigation.
 
 
More than 3,000 communities across Canada rely on volunteers to drop what they are doing and rush to a fire or rescue scene. In most cases, they get an honorarium that ranges from around $14 to $35 an hour when dealing with what can be high-risk scenes. (WCxKit)
 
 
Without the resources and full-time professional firefighters of larger centers – there are fewer than 100 of those in the country, smaller departments may have difficulty accessing training, equipment and manpower.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He is an editor and contributor to Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 
 
2012 WORKERS COMP MANAGEMENT GUIDEBOOK:  www.WCManual.com
 
WORK COMP CALCULATOR:  www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Ontario on Safety Blitz Helping Build Worker Safety

Ontario is helping ensure worker safety by conducting a summer blitz of construction sites across Ontario, according to a report from the Ministry of Labor.(WCxKit)
 
 
This month, the safety blitz will focus on hazards involving access equipment such as ladders, work platforms, or other elevating devices. The blitz will help keep construction sites safe by checking on practices related to access equipment, including:
1.      Worker training.
2.      Safe use, inspection and testing.
3.      Maintenance records and other documentation.
4.      Rescue and emergency procedures.
 
 
Protecting construction workers is part of the government's continued commitment to prevent workplace injuries through its Safe at Work Ontario  strategy.
 
 
“Hazards involving improper use of access equipment put workers at needless risk. The McGuinty government is committed to eliminating workplace injuries. Workers have a right to return home each day, safe and sound,” said Charles Sousa, minister of Labor.
 
 
Since 2008, Ontario safety inspectors have made more than 266,000 field visits and conducted 33 inspection blitzes. Inspectors have issued more than 425,000 compliance orders since 2008.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Canada Considers Switching to Prepaid Policy Following Death of Gas Station Employee

In an effort to increase safety for attendants at gas stations, the Ministry of Labor (MoL) in Ontario is considering imposing a prepaid policy following an attendant’s death in a “gas and dash” incident.
 
 
According to the Canadian OH&S News, gas attendant Hashem Atifeh Rad, was hit by a vehicle leaving the station without paying for the gas. The attendant was found on the roadway with severe injuries and died in hospital the next day according to a Peel Regional Police statement, which also revealed the driver reportedly was seen covering up his license plates prior to leaving the scene. (WCxKit)
 
 
In an effort to increase the pressure, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) in Toronto is slated to vote on a resolution requesting the province to legislate mandatory prepaid services at gas stations. The resolution, provided by the Hamilton Police Service, was voted on at the annual general meeting in Huntsville, Ontario June 29.
 
 
Ontario is not the first province to consider prepaid systems. British Columbia put in place a pay-then-pump system in 2008 after the death of a young gas attendant. Grant's Law, named after Grant DePatie who died in a gas theft incident in March of 2005, requires mandatory prepayment for gasoline, and safe work practices and protection for gas station workers.
 
 
According to a Ministry of Labor representative, "Employers are required to assess risks and to have measures and procedures in place to control those risks. For gas stations, one of those risks needing to be addressed is gas-and-dash."
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Ontario Clarifies Firefighter Mandatory Retirement Rules

The Ontario government has introduced new legislation to eliminate any confusion among the ranks of professional firefighters that resulted from the province's prohibition of mandatory retirement policies six years ago.
 
 
According to Canadian OH&S News, under the proposed amendments to the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, fire departments are allowed to include in their collective agreements language that requires professional (salaried) firefighters to retire at the age of 60 or older, according to Matt Blajer, a spokesman for Ontario's Ministry of Labor (MoL). The provision only applies to firefighters who are regularly assigned to fire suppression duties. The changes "reflect the general current practice in most municipalities and take into account the health and safety risks of this hazardous and physically stressful job," he added. (WCxKit)
 
 
Back in 2005, Ontario passed legislation to prohibit mandatory retirement clauses in collective agreements, though it did exempt the practice for cases where retirement would be allowed under the provincial Human Rights Code as a bona fide occupational requirement (BFOR). 
 
 
Mandating retirement at age 60 has been a BFOR for professionals in Ontario since the 1980s, but a 2008 challenge at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario served as a catalyst to demand greater clarity, says Fred LeBlanc, president of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association.
 
 
"We're pleased to finally see it," LeBlanc noted of the amendments, which had their first reading in the provincial legislature on April 18.
 
 
The 2008 tribunal case involved Edwin Espey, a district chief in the London Fire Department who opposed being forced to retire at 60. The tribunal reaffirmed earlier decisions, noting that "the risks of cardiac events for firefighters are significant and increase with age, in particular after age 60. The risk of an on-the-job cardiac event during emergency response is particularly high."
 
 
LeBlanc noted his association fears that without the amendments, the prospect of additional costly human rights challenges will continue. "We were saying to the politicians, 'We're going to have a revolving door here with the Human Rights Tribunal calling the same doctors, the same evidence.'"
 
 
Beyond cost, there is the matter of ensuring firefighter health and safety, he adds.
 
 
Liberal MPP Mike Brown, the Algoma-Manitoulin member who introduced a motion calling for the legislation, says that "hopefully we'll get it through the House before it rises in June." Given that Brown's motion received all-party support, he's hoping the same will happen for the bill.
 
 
But there are some observers who would like the legislature to take some time to mull over the changes.
 
 
Tim Beckett, president of the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs, says the bill has "good intentions" but it is not perfect. "If this is done based on health and safety principles, then they've fallen short in protecting the health and safety of the volunteer firefighter," says Beckett, noting that volunteers would not be required to retire at any age from emergency duties.
 
 
"You cannot separate the full-time and volunteers," he contends. "A firefighter is a firefighter is a firefighter when it comes to the health and safety aspect."
 
 
LeBlanc agrees and remarks his association would not be opposed to mandatory retirement applying to volunteers. A few Ontario municipalities with volunteer departments have implemented retirement provisions, he adds.
 
 
"The key word is a volunteer," Brown remarked, arguing that they aren't truly employed and thus cannot be made to retire. Blajer makes the same point and adds that "from our meetings with stakeholders, we have been told that age restrictions for volunteers could severely impact or even shut down delivery of fire services in some smaller communities."
 
 
The same challenge does not exist for professional departments since the average age of retirement for full-timers is 57, the MoL notes. (WCxKit)
 
 
Following a second reading, the bill should be sent to a legislative committee for debate and additional feedback from stakeholders, Beckett added.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Ontario Investigates Mold Issue Impacting University Employees

The Ministry of Labor (MoL) issued a stop-work order to the University of Windsor in Ontario after an inspection which discovered mold inside a two-story building housing about 20 campus police officers.
 
 
The ministry conducted an inspection on April 8 after receiving a complaint about hazardous working conditions. "There is water infiltrating the roof walls, windows and basement causing a hazard to workers," according to MoL spokesperson Matt Blajer. (WCxKit)
 
 
The inspection report indicated that asbestos and mold was found in the building and the workplace was inadequately ventilated. Temperature fluctuations of almost 10 degrees Celsius provided workers with additional health challenges.
 
 
"Workers that have already had their health compromised for several years cannot continue to be exposed to these conditions without suffering additional cumulative issues," the report notes. Police officers have since been relocated to another building on the campus.
 
 
"Of the 20, 12 of them have respiratory problems, some of them quite severe," Mike Dunning, financial secretary with the Canadian Auto Workers union Local 195 in Windsor, says of the workers. Four who have been hired in the last few years now suffer from respiratory problems, which they never had prior to working in the building. "There's mold on every floor," he says.
 
 
Dunning says they have voiced concerns to the university regarding the dire working conditions in the building. "I've been on this assignment for nine years," says Dunning.
 
 
Information from the MoL's inspection report notes that the university has been made aware of the health issues of people working in the building as far back as 2000. During visits over five years ago, the university assured the MoL that the issues tied to poor building conditions would be addressed on a priority basis with a six-month time frame. "No effective measures have been taken to address the most serious issues," the report concludes.
 
 
The report also notes that after the orders were issued, a recorded phone message found a maintenance supervisor intentionally attempted to prevent workers from discovering the nature of work and/or hazard related to the conditions of the building. (WCxKit)
 
 
The university is pending assessments from a contractor prior to determining whether to fix the building which was built in the 1930s, or move police officers to a more suitable location on campus. A couple of new constructions are underway, including a massive 300,000 square feet building.
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

Review Our WC Book – Manage Your Workers Compensation Program: Reduce Your Costs 20-50%

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Ontario Officials Fine Brampton Following Worker Injury

The Corporation of the City of Brampton has been fined $75,000 for a violation of the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a young worker was injured.
 
 
On Feb. 20, 2009, City workers were preparing the tube hill for use by the public. Every day, prior to opening the hill to patrons, workers tested the speed of the hill. To test the speed of the escape lane, a young worker placed himself in a tube and slid down the lane.(WCxKit)
 
 
The tube slid in the wrong direction and went over the berm, colliding with the tow line lifting device. The worker suffered broken bones, a punctured lung, spinal fracture and a concussion.
 
 
A Ministry of Labor investigation discovered that City did not take the reasonable precaution of ensuring that the berm was adequate for the protection of the worker.
 
 
The Corporation of the City of Brampton pled guilty for not taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.
 
 
The fine was imposed by Justice of the Peace Michael Barnes. (WCxKit)
 
 
In addition to the fine, the court imposed a 25-percent victim fine surcharge, as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.
 
 
 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Ontario WSIB Notes Year-Long Funding Review

Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) announced that it will undertake a year-long funding review to tackle its unfunded liability, which is currently projected at more than $12 billion.

Chaired by Harry Arthurs
, the former dean of Osgoode Hall Law School and president emeritus of York University in Toronto, the review's advisory committee will gather expert advice and input from workers, labor and employers related to the WSIB's financial future, including a plan on how to eliminate the unfunded liability, according to a WSIB release. (WCxKit)

Unfunded liability refers to
the difference between the total cost of claims in the system and funds in the system to pay for them, the WSIB explains. It has increased to over $12 billion due to "insufficient premium revenue, rising claims and health care costs and declining investment returns following the recent economic downturn."

To help slow
the growth of the unfunded liability, the WSIB has decided to increase the average premium rate by two percent for 2011 and another two percent in 2012. Now, the average premium rate will rise from $2.30 to $2.35 for every $100 of insurable earnings in 2011 and to $2.40 in 2012.

The WSIB stresses
that the increase is being applied to the average premium rate, meaning more than half of registered employers will see little to no increase, while other employers in high-risk industries with a history of costly claims may see increases of more than two percent.

But Satinder Chera
, vice-president for Ontario with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), questions the necessity of a review. "If you are going to do a review, then the last thing you want to do is to predispose what the outcome will be, which is essentially what they've done by increasing rates," he contends. "What's the point of the review if you've already decided that you are going to have to increase rates?"

For CFIB members
, the "payroll hit" will make it more difficult for employers to grow their businesses, Chera argues. "What it will mean is some will have to delay hiring while others may be struggling just to hold onto the employees that they do have."

While Chera understands
that the increases affect the average premium rate, he argues that certain industries will see a much greater increase over the next two years.

The WSIB
acknowledges this, noting that the premium rate for 2011 will increase by 20 percent over this year's rate for the 'motor vehicle fabric accessories' sector; 19.5 percent the poultry farms and agricultural services sector; and 19 percent for the fruit and vegetable products sector. Workplaces such as gold and nickel mines, machine shops and foundries, on the other hand, will see no increase. (WCxKit)

Christine Arnott
, a media relations specialist with the WSIB, says that if a company's health and safety performance has been good or better than the rate group average, they may still be eligible for performance rebates under the WSIB's incentive-based experience rating programs. But the lack of reduction

Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.
C
ontact:  RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2010 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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