Yukon targets employers with poor safety records

A construction worker holding a hardhat. Stock photo by Getty Images

Beginning next year, the Yukon’s workers’ compensation board will implement a new policy enabling it to levy super-assessments against employers with poor safety records.

The Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (WCHSB) policy will take effect Jan. 1, 2016. A super-assessment is a payment over and above an employer’s regular yearly workers’ compensation assessment.

Its objective is to make individual employers more accountable for what they cost the territory’s workers’ compensation system in workplace injuries and illnesses, says Sheila Vanderbyl, a hearing officer and policy analyst with the WCHSB.

“To super-assess an employer is to say we are actually holding you accountable because your performance is driving the rates for everybody in your group.”

The new policy is part of the board’s focus on injury/illness prevention and is not a way to try to squeeze more money from employers, says Vanderbyl.

“Our goal is to never have to actually super-assess anybody,” she says.

“It will send a message, but our intention is to always, always push the prevention side and tell employers that this is the way out of this. Even if we target you for a super-assessment, they can get themselves out of it.”

The policy will apply to large employers in the territory that meet the following conditions:

  • The employer’s claims costs in the most recent five full calendar years are more than three times that of the average for their rate group.
  • The employer does not have sufficient practices and procedures to prevent workplace injuries, based on the board’s occupational health and safety criteria.

Large employers are those with an annual payroll that is more than six times the maximum assessable earnings. For 2015, the maximum assessable earnings amount is $84,837, meaning if the policy was implemented this year, it would only apply to employers with a payroll over about $500,000.

The board will analyze its claims cost data to look for employers that are at risk of a super-assessment. It expects to target three or four big employers per year that are getting close to the super-assessment threshold, says Vanderbyl.

Before levying the payment, the board will work with the employers to help it improve its safety practices.

“They will have a whole year to get themselves off a list before the levy is issued,” she says.

“When the policy goes live on Jan. 1, 2016, there will probably be some employers who are already in what we call the red zone, which is more than three times the average, but even those employers will still be given a year. It will never be a surprise.”

Read the full article on Canadian Safety Reporter
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