State touts continued workers' compensation improvement

2013-08-15T15:30:00Z 2013-08-15T16:41:50Z State touts continued workers' compensation improvementThe Associated Press The Associated Press
August 15, 2013 3:30 pm  • 

HELENA – The Montana Department of Labor reports that the incidence of workers’ compensation injuries continues to decline, a trend that backers of reform to the system hope will continue.

The agency’s recent annual workers’ compensation report said the number of claims decreased about 4 percent from the past year.

Before a slate of 2011 reforms, Montana was the most expensive state in the nation to buy such insurance. In rankings released late last year, Montana moved up seven slots.

“As a state, we are making great strides in preventing workplace accidents and I firmly believe the number of claims will continue to go down,” DOL commissioner Pam Bucy wrote in the report.

Bucy said the state is seeing the positive effects of the reform legislation passed. She said the agency will also be reconvening the Labor Management Advisory Council to further study the impact. Membership includes workers, business managers and others affected by the issue.

State Rep. Scott Reichner, who helped push the workers’ compensation reforms through the Legislature, said he is “absolutely pleased” with the results.

“It proves that the citizen legislature can work together to accomplish great change,” Reichner said. “Major reform along with safety training throughout the state is the reason for the major drop in rates.”

Reichner said he expects that safety training and new medical guidelines going into place will further decrease rates.

The Labor Department also said it continues to invest in training for safer workplaces and campaigns designed to get workers back to work more quickly.

Diana Ferriter, administrator for the Employment Relations Division, said that the cost of the insurance dropped another 5 percent in Montana this summer. Last year, there was no change after a steep decline of 22 percent in the summer of 2011 after the legislation was signed into law.

“These trends we are seeing in reduced number of claims and controlling medical costs will just help our economy in the state while also keeping workers safe and healthy during their work life. And hopefully it is a sign that things will improve,” she said.

Ferriter said a big issue remains Montana’s relatively high rate of workplace injuries. She said the state still injures workers at much higher rates than elsewhere. And the injuries aren’t restricted to jobs most people consider high risk, like construction or mining.

In the past year, health care and social assistance workers had the highest rate of workers’ compensation injuries. The other most injury-prone fields were public administration, retail, education, food services, followed by construction and manufacturing.

The most common injury was a strain, followed by falling or tripping, and then being struck by an object.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No Comments Posted.

Missoulian Civil Dialogue Policy

Civil Dialogue Policy for Commenting on

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Comments can only be submitted by registered users. By posting comments on our site, you are agreeing to the following terms:

Commentary and photos submitted to the Missoulian ( may be published or distributed in print, electronically or other forms. Opinions expressed in's comments reflect the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of the Missoulian or its parent company. See the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Our guidelines prohibit the solicitation of products or services, the impersonation of another site user, threatening or harassing postings and the use of vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language, defamatory or illegal material. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or other classification. It's fine to criticize ideas, but ad hominem attacks on other site users are prohibited. Users who violate those standards may lose their privileges on

You may not post copyrighted material from another publication. (Link to it instead, using a headline or very brief excerpt.)

No short policy such as this can spell out all possible instances of material or behavior that we might deem to be a violation of our publishing standards, and we reserve the right to remove any material posted to the site.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Missoula Mayor John Engen and UM Vice President Peggy Kuhr accept Ice Bucket Challenge

Missoula mayor John Engen and University of Montana Vice President Peggy Kuhr accepted the Ice Bucket Chall…

Montana Rail Link is BNSF's Shortline of the Year for 2013

Montana Rail Link is BNSF's Shortline of the Year for 2013

BNSF Railway has selected Montana Rail Link, Inc. as its 2013 Shortline of the Year for its …