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Workers' Comp Rules for Engineers and Surveyors

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This fall the state's Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) considered two proposals affecting the job classifications of engineers and surveyors for the purposes of workers' compensation insurance. 

The first proposal would shift land surveyors out of its current classification with engineers, and instead group land surveyors, timber cruisers and oil or gas geologists into a newly created workers' comp job classification.  After reviewing insurance claims and premiums data, ACEC California concluded that under this proposed change land surveying firms would experience a major increase in workers' comp costs--increases which could not come at a worst time for the industry.  ACEC California also concluded that the proposed change ignored the areas of overlap between land surveying and civil engineering and also ignored technological changes in land surveying that were making the workers' comp risks associated with land surveying more and more similar to the risks associated with doing civil engineering work.  After hearing ACEC Californiaís comments, WCIRB decided to drop land surveying from this proposed change.

The second proposal considered by WCIRB shifts outside salespersons, drafts persons and clerical employees who work for engineering firms from a general office worker job classification to the engineering job classification.  WCIRB states that this change will simplify workers' comp administration for both engineering firms and the WCIRB and that under the new blended workers' comp rates engineering firms will see a net decrease in premiums.  The decrease would occur, because the non-engineers employed by engineering firms generally have better claims experience than similar employees who do not work for engineering firms.  At the time of this writing this second proposed change is before Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and, if approved by Commissioner Poizner, will take effect on January 1, 2011.

Also now before Commissioner Poizner is WCIRBís proposed overall 30 percent increase in workers' comp premium rates. 

In general the job classifications approved by the commissioner must be utilized by workers' comp insurance companies, but the workers' comp premium rates approved by the commissioner are only advisory.

 
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