On June 12, 2017, the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council published its an annual report for fiscal year 2016, entitled “The State of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation System.”
The WCAC was first created in 1985 as part of the overhaul of the worker’s compensation system in the Commonwealth. The WCAC Council is comprised of 16 members who are appointed by the Governor for five-year terms. The following is a list of the current board members:
- *Stephen Joyce, Chair (New England Carpenters Labor Management Program)
- *John Regan, Vice-Chair (Associated Industries of Massachusetts)
- *Mickey Long (AFL – CIO)
- *James Steenbruggen (First Electric Motor Service, Inc.)
- *Stephen P. Falvey (New England Regional Council of Carpenters)
- *Todd R. Johnson (USI Insurance Services)
- Michael P. Kelley (HUB International New England)
- *Teri A. McHugh (Boyle, Shaughnessy & Campo, P.C.)
- Bernard J. Mulholland (Ford, Mulholland & Moran, P.C.)
- *John A. Pulgini (Laborers Union, Local 223)
- *Frank Ruel (Raytheon)
*Denotes Voting Member
Jay Ash (Secretary, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development)
Ronald L. Walker, II (Secretary, Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development)
Evelyn N. Flanagan (Acting Executive Director)
Annual report must provide an analysis of the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system
As part of its statutory obligation, The Advisory Council’s Annual Report must provide a detailed analysis of the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts each year. This year’s report includes an overview and discussion of the operations of the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA), summaries of legislative initiatives and current statistics related to occupational illness and injury, as well as sections on workers’ compensations insurance.
Some highlights of Fiscal Year 2016 taken directly from the annual report
- The number of cases filed with the DIA has decreased 75% since 1991.
- The number of First Reports of Injury (FRIs) filed has decreased 39% since 1991.
- In fiscal year 2016, there were 129 uninsured injuries reported to the DIA.
- According to the “2016 Oregon Workers’ Compensation Premium Summary” report, Massachusetts employers in the voluntary market pay the eighth lowest workers’ compensation premium rates in the country.
- In fiscal year 2016, 12,841 conciliations were scheduled and 5,183 (40%) of the cases conciliated were resolved; 6,874 conferences were scheduled and 4,078 (59%) were resolved; 3,555 hearings were scheduled and 3,257 (92%) were resolved. The fiscal year 2016 Dispute Resolution system began with 12,841 conciliations scheduled and 12,581 (98%) resolved leaving about 2% of the cases moving forward and waiting for a decision.
The state of the worker’s compensation system in Massachusetts via graphs & charts
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so instead of trying to explain the current state of the worker’s compensation system, it is better to show it through the following charts and graphs taken from the annual report. Please note that we have copied the introductions to each of these categories verbatim from the report.
Mandatory Insurance Coverage
Every private sector employer in the Commonwealth is required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. This requirement may be satisfied by purchasing a commercial insurance policy, becoming a member in a self-insurance group, or maintaining a license as a self-insured employer.
The Assigned Risk Pool and the Estimated Residual Market Share
Any employer rejected for workers’ compensation insurance can obtain coverage through the residual market, known as the Assigned Risk Pool. Administered by the Workers’ Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau (WCRIB), the Assigned Risk Pool is the “insurer of last resort” and is required by law to provide coverage when an employer is rejected by at least two carriers within five business days.
The estimated ultimate residual market share for the 12-month period ending June 2016 is 19.2%. The residual market remains far below the 1992 policy year level of 64.7%.Summary of Benefits:
Companies in related industries may join together to form a self-insurance group (SIG). Regulated by the Division of Insurance, SIGs may include public employers, non-profit groups, and private employers in the same industry or trade association.
Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Statistics
Since 1992, the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards has been in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in an effort to collect injury and illness data in a uniform format.
Provisions to Resolve Disputes
Requests for adjudication may be filed either by an employee seeking benefits or an insurer seeking modification or discontinuance of benefits following the pay without prejudice period.
Cases filed at the DIA
Cases originate at the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) when any of the following are filed: an employee’s claim for benefits, an insurer’s complaint for termination or modification of benefits, a third party claim, a request for approval of a lump sum settlement, or a Section 37/37A request.
For those individuals interested in reading the full annual report, please click here: The State of the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation.