Industrial employers in Tennessee have seen a big drop in what they're paying to insure their workers on the job. The latest proposed rates represent a 36 percent decrease since workers comp laws were overhauled in 2014.
The specific rates depend on the line of work. Roofing tends to be the most expensive. But a foundry isn't far behind. And Charlie Foust has seen rates drop by nearly half. The Clarksville Foundry was spending nearly 20 percent of the cost of an employee on workers comp. Now Foust says it's more like 10 percent.
"It's just another one of those expenses that if you can keep it under control — or move it in a downward direction — it just helps overall," he says.
But the savings haven't freed up money for expansion. They've been a wash, he says.
"Of course we furnish health insurance as well, and that's going in a bad direction. So you kinda gotta look at the big picture and take what you can get where you can get it."
Foust says his company has been fortunate not to make any workers comp claims under the new program. While the overhaul was supposed to simplify the process and take it out of the courts, payouts were also capped — meaning some injured workers are getting less money than they could have previously.
In a written statement, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance says workers comp premiums are down because the state is seeing fewer workplace injuries that result in claims.