Press Release: Cross Agency Work to Reduce Injury and Workers' Comp for Logging Industry
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Stephanie Brackin, Department of Financial Regulation
GOVERNOR PHIL SCOTT HIGHLIGHTS STATE'S WORK TO REDUCE INJURIES AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COSTS FOR LOGGING SECTOR
Announces Availability of 15% Workers’ Compensation Premium Credit for the Sector
Since 2016, Sector has Seen 25% Reduction in Workers’ Compensation Rates
Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Phil Scott and representatives from the Department of Financial Regulation (DFR), Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) and the Department of Labor (DOL) today highlighted progress on the new Vermont Logger Safety and Workers' Compensation Insurance Program, including a 15% workers’ compensation premium credit.
“Innovative programs like the Vermont Logger Safety and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program are critical to growing our economy and making Vermont a more affordable place to do business,” said Governor Scott. “The program is a win-win: it will improve workplace safety for loggers and lead to savings for Vermont employers, allowing them to reinvest in their businesses and create jobs.”
The program was launched by the administration earlier this year – with support and funding from the legislature - to modernize safety training for logging contractors and their employees to reduce injuries and insurance claims, helping them qualify for reduced insurance rates.
Eligibility for the newly announced premium credit is determined by a two-step process. First, employers attend a leadership training designed to foster a workplace culture of safety, while employees attend occupation-specific training to learn best practices for worksite safety. Second, an onsite verification is conducted to ensure implementation of the safety practices.
DFR has contracted with W.J. Cox Associates, Inc., a third-party risk prevention specialist with over 40 years’ experience in the forest products industry, to conduct the verifications. Successful completion of both steps will deem an employee “safety certified,” automatically qualifying their employer for the 15% premium credit. The “safety certified” designation must be renewed on an annual basis to remain eligible for the premium credit.
“Our research indicated that onsite verification is a critical component to actually improving workplace safety so we are confident this program will yield results,” said DFR Deputy Commissioner of Insurance Kevin Gaffney. “It is important to deliver consistent safety standards that result in an environment of safety, which in turn encourages competition among insurance carriers – this program accomplishes both.”
FPR and DOL hosted a virtual information session this summer for forestland owners, foresters, loggers and insurance agents to provide an overview of the program and new online resources. Required trainings for employers, supervisors and employees began in the summer and will continue throughout the fall and the following spring.
“We’ve built a program based on what has proven to be successful and sustainable in other states and countries in the logging sector,” said Deputy Commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation Sam Lincoln. “Modernized training for employers and employees, on the job loss prevention consultations and a direct connection between verified safer logging operations and lower insurance rates is the path forward we’re charting for Vermont’s forest economy.”
In addition to lowering workers’ compensation rates in the logging sector, statewide rates have decreased for three consecutive years, resulting in approximately $40 million in savings for Vermont businesses.
The Vermont Logger Safety and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program was established through an interagency collaborative effort by DFR, FPR and DOL, with input from logging safety trainers, the National Council on Compensation Insurance, insurance carriers and business owners in the forestry sector. A website with more information for logging contractors, consulting foresters and forestland owners is now available at https://fpr.vermont.gov/vermont-logger-safety-and-workers-compensation-insurance-program.