AAI Says Proposed Changes to Ark. Safety Rule Problematic, Unnecessary

May 21, 2003

A proposed change to the way Arkansas regulates insurer safety programs will reportedly create additional costs with no corresponding improvement in workplace safety, a leading safety expert told a hearing of the state’s Workers Compensation Committee.

“The changes being proposed for Rule 31 will increase the cost of insurance safety services, thereby creating the unintended effect of decreasing safety programs by making them less affordable to some companies,” Keith Lessner, vice president of safety for the Alliance of American Insurers (AAI), said. “In addition, the rule’s reporting requirements will force insurers to shift resources from supporter employers’ safety efforts to compliance and reporting activities.”

Lessner went on to note that there is no data to suggest that Arkansas has a workplace safety problem, nor that more stringent regulation of insurance safety programs would have any effect.

He cited a recent Work Loss Data Institute study that compared states’ workers’ compensation outcomes by looking at OSHA data.

The study gave Arkansas a grade of A- and ranked it among the top nine states in controlling occupational injuries and illnesses.
In addition, he noted that the Arkansas Workers Compensation Commission’s most recent quarterly report on Accident Prevention Services (first quarter of 2002) showed no complaints with accident prevention services.

“When it comes to protecting Arkansas workers, employers, insurers and the workers themselves seem to be getting the job done,” Lessner said. “Further tinkering by the state will only upset the effective balance already in place.”

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