As the number of Ontario’s workers continues to grow, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“WSIB”) heads into 2020 with continued commitment to providing transparent, accessible, and timely services. Along with the WSIB’s prioritization of service improvements, the WSIB 2020 Policy Agenda outlines process items that the WSIB will focus on over the next year.
Completion and Implementation of Rate Framework Modernization
On January 1, 2020, the WSIB’s new Rate Framework model took effect, standardizing business classifications through the North American Industry Classification System (“NAICS”) and creating an open, fair system of setting and adjusting premiums based on a two-step approach.
The NAICS has simplified WSIB classifications from 155 rate groups to 34 classes/subclasses, removing mandatory coverage for some business activities. Cost windows will be fixed at a rolling six-year period to promote predictability in calculating premium rates, per-claim cost limits, and individual-rate deviation. For simplicity, all Ontario non-profit organizations will enjoy a premium “freeze” for the next five years, where premiums will either remain the same or decrease.
The WSIB’s two-step approach involves: (i) establishing average premium rates using each industry class’s risk profiles and fund obligations; and (ii) adjusting rates using individual employers’ claims history and risk profiles as compared to others within their class.
The ability to improve premium rates should incentivize employers to invest in workplace health and safety. Practically, the adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” should be taken to heart by businesses, with the assistance of their lawyers. Up-to-date policies and procedures are key.
Where the prospect of decreased premium rates might fail to motivate businesses, increased premium rates might do the trick. For employers with poor claims histories, the WSIB will implement accountability programs as a preventative measure. If these employers fail to improve their health and safety records, they can expect to be penalized. Either way, we are bound to see fewer claims involving serious workplace-related injuries and deaths.