Governor Phil Scott today announced a new initiative to address the high cost of workers’ compensation insurance for logging contractors in Vermont’s forest economy.
The Vermont Logger Safety and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program—developed collaboratively by the Departments of Financial Regulation, Labor and Forests, Parks and Recreation, with input from logging safety trainers, the National Council on Compensation Insurance, insurance carriers and business owners in the forestry sector—will modernize safety training for logging contractors and their employees, reducing injuries and insurance claims and allowing them to qualify for reduced insurance rates.
“As we work to grow the economy and make Vermont a more affordable place to do business, the Vermont Logger Safety and Workers’ Compensation Insurance Program will help employers provide safer workplaces for their employees while lowering their costs and allowing them to create more jobs in this sector,” said Governor Phil Scott.
The initiative, which was introduced by the Scott Administration and supported by the Legislature, includes state funding to increase access to affordable safety trainings tailored to the unique hazards of the logging occupation. These trainings will be available to logging contractors throughout 2019.
“This program will help level the playing field amongst logging contractors and lower the cost of this necessary insurance,” said Gabe Russo of Southwind Forestry in Pawlet. “Reducing expenses, during a time of difficult market and weather conditions, will allow me to reinvest in my business and continue to provide professional services with properly insured employees to forestland owners in Vermont.”
Workshops for employers and managers of logging operations will provide leadership and communications training as well as information about current trends in losses and injuries related to logging, increasing industry-wide safety awareness. The State will provide onsite loss prevention consultations to verify that proper safety practices have been implemented by participating logging operations.
To lower the traditionally high insurance premiums for logging contractors (due in part to low participation rates of logging contractors in the workers’ compensation insurance pool), the State will also provide new guidance to landowners and consulting foresters to ensure that they are contracting with properly insured entities.
A new website is now available with more information for logging contractors, consulting foresters and forestland owners at https://fpr.vermont.gov/vermont-logger-safety-and-workers-compensation-insurance-program (link is external)