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Workers’ compensation premiums increase 3% for construction in 2024

December 2, 2023

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries announced a 3% average increase in the state’s workers’ compensation premiums for construction effective Jan. 1, 2024. The state average for all classifications increased by 4.9%.

BIAW stands up for members

At a hearing on Oct. 27 in Olympia, BIAW lobbyist Tom Kwieciak and lobbyists for the Association of Washington Business and Associated General Contractors warned L&I that continued increases based on the state’s average annual wage were unsustainable.


“Combined with last year’s adopted rate increase, L&I rates will have gone up over 10% over the last two years,” Kwieciak said. “More concerning is the trajectory of the “indicated” rate increase – which shows the true cost increases in the L&I system before the Department “buys down” these rate increases with funds from the contingency reserve.”

Large increases in workers’ compensation premiums not sustainable

Kwieciak warned L&I not to use the state’s contingency reserve fund to mask the trust costs of the program.

L&I says this is the fourth year they’ve tapped the contingency reserve fund to avoid larger increases in premiums. Without the contingency reserve, it would need to raise average rates by nearly 10% to cover new claims in 2024.

“These double-digit indicated rates are not sustainable,” he said. “Without raiding the contingency reserve fund, built largely upon exceptional investment results, we would be staring at a shockingly high rate increase each year. Continually buying down rate increases with investment windfalls masks the true costs of our expensive workers’ comp system. This sets us up for a financial reckoning in the years ahead.”

Kwieciak then offered several ways L&I could control costs. He suggested basing cost-of-living increases on the Consumer Price Index instead of the state’s average wage. Washington is the only state in the nation that calculates cost-of-living increases that way.

“We would welcome the Department’s thoughts and inputs on developing a legislative proposal that protects injured workers’ buying power and at the same time more accurately reflects cost of living increases,” he said.

L&I recently provided its response to suggestions offered during public testimony.

Participating in ROII can Help Ease the Pain

If you’re a residential building contractor or subcontractor in Washington state, you may be eligible for a partial refund of your workers’ compensation premiums if you lower workplace injuries and reduce your associated claim costs with Return on Industrial Insurance (ROII).

ROII is the Building Industry Association of Washington’s (BIAW) Retrospective Rating (Retro) program. It is the state’s largest, longest-operating Retro program. ROII has distributed over $500 million in workers’ compensation refunds to participating companies across Washington state.

ROII helps eliminate injuries through improvements in workplace safety and preventative strategies. If an employee suffers an injury, ROII helps companies help the employee get better quicker with a successful return-to-work experience. Any employer with an industrial insurance account in good standing may qualify to participate. Other factors can affect eligibility as well. ROII participants are earning some serious cash. Don’t leave money on the table; get rewarded for safety at

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