Workers' compensation rates fall in B.C.

Most industries’ safety records are improving, but some have seen an increase in injuries over the past few years

Improved safety training and return-to-work programs in British Columbia have helped the province lower its workers' compensation premium rates for next year.

WorkSafeBC announced that B.C.’s Workers' Compensation Board would cut employers’ overall premium rates for 2006 by 3.5 per cent.

The province’s premium rates for employers are among the lowest in Canada, said WorkSafeBC’s chief financial officer Sid Fattedad.

“In periods of significant economic growth, it is normal to expect that the injury rate would turn up,” said Fattedad. “However, with the help of employers and workers engaging in safety training and return-to-work efforts, the cost of injuries is expected to stay on a declining track.”

While safety training and compliance on the job decreases workplace accidents, effective return-to-work programs help injured employees get back to work faster, reducing the cost of injuries to the employers.

Injuries have been falling off in industrial construction and that industry should see its premium rate fall by 18 per cent next year.

However, not all industries are seeing a reduction in injuries or the high cost of rehabilitation.

Injuries have been on the rise in homebuilding and general trucking, which has seen 66 fatalities over the past five years.

The general trucking sector should see a 15.6 per cent increase in rates next year, due in part to significant costs of long-term disability, health care, survivor benefits and vocational rehabilitation.

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