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Oregonians get early glimpse of 2023 health insurance rates - 05/23/22

Salem – Oregon consumers can get a first look at requested rates for 2023 individual and small group health insurance plans, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services announced today.

In the individual market, six companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average 2.3 percent to 12.6 percent increase, for a weighted average increase of 6.7 percent. In the small group market, nine companies submitted rate change requests ranging from an average 0 percent to 11.6 percent increase, for a weighted average increase of 6.9 percent. Our initial review has found that insurers have identified inflation, medical trend, and enrollment changes as factors in the proposed increases. See the attached chart for the full list of rate change requests.

Oregonians will also see an uptick in premiums due to the expiration of temporary enhanced subsidies for on exchange individual market plans. The additional premium support has helped to lower monthly premiums by an average of 46 percent since enactment in 2021. Under the enhanced subsidy structure, people between 151 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level can get a bronze plan for as low as $1 per month, with other plans varying in costs. The loss of subsidies will equate to an approximate $11.9 million increase every month for Oregonians.

Health insurance companies submitted rate requests to the department’s Division of Financial Regulation on May 16. The requested rates are for plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act for small businesses and individuals who buy their own coverage rather than getting it through an employer. Every county has at least four companies available for people to buy insurance on the individual market.

Over the next two months, the division will analyze the requested rates to ensure they adequately cover Oregonians’ health care costs. The division must review and approve rates before they are charged to policyholders.

“Oregon continues to have a strong and competitive insurance marketplace, with four carriers offering plans statewide and Oregonians in most our counties having five or six companies to choose from, ” said Insurance Commissioner and DCBS Director Andrew Stolfi. “The Oregon Reinsurance Program continues to allow Oregonians to find reasonable rates.”

The Oregon Reinsurance Program continues to help stabilize the market and lower rates. Reinsurance lowered rates by 6 percent for the fifth straight year. 

Virtual public hearings about the 2023 health insurance rates will be held July 27-28. A web address to watch the public hearings will be posted at oregonhealthrates.org. At the hearings, each insurance company will provide a brief presentation about its rate requests, answer questions from the division, and hear public comment from Oregonians.

“We look forward to a thorough public review of these filings as we work to establish next year’s health insurance rates.” Stolfi said. “We encourage all Oregonians to join us for the virtual public hearings and provide feedback on their health insurance plans.”

Oregonians are encouraged to comment on rate change requests during the public comment period, which opens later this month and runs through July 7. The public can submit comments at oregonhealthrates.org and during the public rate hearings.

Preliminary decisions are expected to be announced in early July, and final decisions will be made in early August after public hearings and comment periods end.

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About DCBS: The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.dcbs.oregon.gov.

About Oregon DFR: The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit www.dcbs.oregon.gov and dfr.oregon.gov.​​

SHARP logo
SHARP logo
City of Keizer earns workplace health, safety recognition following advancement in Oregon OSHA program (Photo) - 05/23/22

Salem – The City of Keizer continues to strengthen its commitment to workplace health and safety, achieving third-year certification as part of Oregon OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

SHARP, primarily set up to help small- and mid-sized businesses, coaches employers on how to effectively manage workplace safety and health. The program encourages Oregon employers to work with their employees to identify and correct hazards and to continuously improve. In turn, companies are recognized for their success in reaching specific benchmarks during the five-year program. An employer may graduate from SHARP after five years of participation. 

The benefits of the program include lower injury and illness rates, decreased workers’ compensation costs, increased employee morale, lower product losses, and community recognition. 

Although departments of other city governments have achieved SHARP certification, the City of Keizer is the first city in Oregon to earn the designation on a citywide – not just department-level – basis. During the City of Keizer’s SHARP journey – formally started in 2018 – the city has engaged in numerous project and process improvements designed to strengthen on-the-job protections for its workers. Examples include everything from installation of eyewash stations at key locations and the completion of training for all new safety committee members to implementation of exhaust and dust collection systems in pump stations and improved training and access to information for emergency evacuation coordinators.

In assessing the city’s efforts as a SHARP participant, Oregon OSHA consultants recently concluded that the city “has consistently followed through with all evaluations, training, programs, and procedures for both the safety and health of all employees.”

Machell DePina, human resources director and safety administrator for the City of Keizer, said the city decided to pursue SHARP after completing a safety manual project and after the city’s safety committee indicated it wanted to “ensure a continued focus on safety, not just a binder that is put on a shelf.”

So, DePina said, the city decided “to go for what hasn’t been done before – certification of a municipality in the SHARP program.”

Putting a focus on workplace safety through SHARP has shown employees the city is committed to proactively addressing their concerns, DePina said. Meanwhile, the SHARP designation has caught the attention of prospective job candidates who have noted the designation shows the city takes safety seriously. 

“It’s hard, but important, work,” DePina said of SHARP. “Our employees are our most valuable asset, and we need to do what we can to ensure they go home as well or better than when they arrived.”

Employers that have been operating for more than a year are eligible to apply for SHARP. Before the process begins, employers must agree to several requirements, including:

  • A comprehensive safety and health assessment of the workplace
  • Significant involvement of employees in the safety and health program
  • Correction of hazards, and improvement of the safety and health management system

Learn more about SHARP.

Learn about Oregon OSHA’s consultation services, offering free help with improving workplace health and safety programs – no fault, no citations, no penalties. 

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.

 

 



 


 

 

Attached Media Files: SHARP logo , DCBS logo , Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA fines West Coast Roofing and Painting $65,000 for repeatedly violating requirement to protect workers against fall hazards (Photo) - 05/17/22

Salem – Oregon OSHA has cited a Portland contractor for repeatedly violating workplace safety standards designed to protect workers from falls that could kill them.

The penalty of $65,000 against West Coast Roofing and Painting Inc. – issued this month following an inspection of a residential roofing job – reflects the company’s history of failing to follow a basic requirement: Implementing adequate fall protection systems – such as a personal fall restraint system or other measures – where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level.

Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.

“Fall protection saves lives. It keeps workers from falling and getting seriously injured,” said Renee Stapleton, acting administrator for Oregon OSHA. “Employers must put it into practice when work is being done at heights. Failing to do so only increases the risk that a worker will go to the hospital or never go home from work again.” 

Oregon OSHA opened the inspection in late March under the division’s emphasis program to prevent falls in the construction industry. The inspection examined West Coast Roofing and Painting’s work on a single-story residential building on Southeast Ivon Street in Portland. The inspection found approximately five employees, working on a roofing project, were exposed to falls to the ground of more than 10 feet with no fall protection in place.

It is the seventh time the company has violated the same fall protection requirement. Oregon OSHA records show that, since 2019, the company has been cited for the same violation as part of six separate inspections of different job locations in the Portland metro area. Under Oregon OSHA’s rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat offenses.

Since 2019, Oregon OSHA has now issued more than $175,000 in fines to West Coast Roofing and Painting for repeatedly violating the same fall protection requirement. That does not include fines issued to the company for other workplace safety violations during that time. 

Employers have 30 calendar days after receiving a citation to file an appeal. 

In addition to its enforcement activities, Oregon OSHA offers employers free resources to help improve workplace safety and health. These resources include the division’s Fall Protection Suite of online video training and its A-to-Z topic page about fall protection.

The Fall Protection Suite includes courses addressing fall protection fundamentals, and constructionroofing, and ladder safety

Employers are encouraged to use free resources – available now from Oregon OSHA and involving no fault, no citations, and no penalties – for help protecting their employees:

Consultation services – Provides free and confidential help with safety and health programs, including how to control and eliminate hazards, and hands-on training

Technical staff – Helps employers understand requirements and how to apply them to their worksites

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to www.oregon.gov/dcbs/.

Attached Media Files: Oregon OSHA logo , DCBS logo
Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA logo
Oregon OSHA adopts rules protecting workers against high heat, wildfire smoke (Photo) - 05/10/22

Salem – The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) announced today the adoption of rules to protect workers from the hazards of high heat and wildfire smoke. The heat rule addresses access to shade and cool water, preventive cool-down breaks, and prevention plans, information, and training. The wildfire smoke rule includes an array of exposure assessments and controls, and training and communication.

Both rules encompass initial protective measures for workers who rely on employer-provided housing, including as part of farm operations.

The rules, which take effect June 15 for heat and July 1 for wildfire smoke, are the most protective of their kind in the United States. The rules reflect the need to strengthen protections in the workplace against the extraordinary hazards of high heat and wildfire smoke while focusing on the needs of Oregon’s most vulnerable communities.

“As we enter what we expect will be another hot and dry summer, all workers, including Oregon's hard-working agricultural and farmworkers, deserve health and safety protections from extreme heat and wildfire smoke,” said Gov. Kate Brown. “With these new rules from Oregon OSHA, I am proud that Oregon will be a national model for heat and wildfire smoke protections for all workers, regardless of income-level, occupation, or immigration status.”

Oregon OSHA – part of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) – adopted the rules, which were proposed in February. Proposal of the rules followed a development process that included worker and community stakeholder listening sessions, input and review by rule advisory committees, and input from employer and labor stakeholders. The rules build on temporary emergency requirements that were adopted in summer 2021 following several months of stakeholder and community engagement. 

The rules are part of Oregon’s larger and ongoing work – initiated by Gov. Brown in her March 2020 executive order 20-04 – to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“We know the threats posed by high heat and wildfire smoke are not going away,” said Andrew Stolfi, director of DCBS. “These rules reflect that reality, and they bolster our ability to prepare for those hazards in the workplace.”

“As we move forward with these rules, Oregon OSHA will continue to offer free training and education resources to help employers achieve compliance,”  said Renee Stapleton, acting administrator for Oregon OSHA.

Resources

Read the rules:

 

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit Oregon OSHA

 

 

 


 

 

Attached Media Files: Oregon OSHA logo , DCBS logo
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Media contest graphic
Six Oregon high schools win prizes in media contest to promote young worker safety (Photo) - 05/04/22

Salem – Teams of students at Parkrose, Pendleton, Grant, North Eugene, Crook County, and West Linn high schools have earned top prizes in a media contest designed to increase awareness about workplace safety for young workers.

High school students across Oregon were invited to participate in the annual contest organized by the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]). In its 14th year of putting a spotlight on the importance of young worker safety and health, the 2021-2022 competition challenged participants to create either a 30- to 90-second video or graphic design that inspires young workers to think twice about their personal health and safety in the workplace. Submissions had to include the tagline “Work. It can be more dangerous than you think.” They also had to highlight the theme of young worker mental well-being. 

Teams of students rose to the challenge. In crisply edited videos and bold graphic designs, they called attention to everything from the stress of a young worker’s first day on the job and the value of a healthy work-life balance to the need to take breaks and to place a high priority on mental health. 

The top winners in each category were:

Video:

  • First place: Parkrose High School, “Balancing Act” ($500)
  • Second: Pendleton High School, “Be Bold for Better Balance” ($400)
  • Third: Grant High School, “Workplace Stress” ($300)
  • Finalist: Centennial High School, “Balancing Work” 

Graphic design:

  • First place: North Eugene High School, “Work. Graphic” ($500)
  • Second place: Crook County High School, “Safety presentation” ($400)
  • Third place: West Linn High School, “Too much to handle!” ($300)
  • Finalists: 
    • Spray School, “Work Pressure”
    • West Linn High School, “The unseen struggle” 
    • West Linn High School, “Think twice”

The first-place teams in each category also earned a matching award for their schools.

Check out the winning submissions on the (O[yes]) website

The mission of (O[yes]) is to prevent injuries and illnesses, and promote well-being to young workers. The nonprofit does this through outreach, advocacy, and sharing resources with young workers, educators, employers, parents, and labor organizations. 

The 2021-2022 contest sponsors are: SAIF Corporation, Oregon OSHA, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health and Science University, SafeBuild Alliance, Oregon chapters of the American Society of Safety Professionals, Oregon SHARP Alliance, Construction Safety Summit, Hoffman Construction, Oregon811, and the Central Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Conference.

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Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state's workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon's largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to oregon.gov/dcbs.

The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) is a nonprofit dedicated to preventing young worker injuries and fatalities. O[yes] members include safety and health professionals, educators, employers, labor and trade associations, and regulators. For more information, go to youngemployeesafety.org.



 


 

 

Financial readiness is important before wildfire season hits - 05/02/22

Salem – National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day is Saturday, May 7, and the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation (DFR) has tips to help you be prepared. 

Financial readiness is often forgotten when preparing for a disaster, particularly a wildfire. Here are some tips to be ready:

  • Conduct annual review with your insurance agent or company to make sure you have the right amounts and types of insurance coverage.
  • Renters should purchase renters insurance to protect their personal belongings. It is affordable; many policies cost around $15 a month.
  • Create a home inventory. Take photos or videos of your possessions in each room of your home. Store the inventory in the cloud or in a location away from your home.
  • Gather and make copies of important identifying and financial documents, including identification and Social Security cards, titles, insurance policy information, tax records, and pet records.
  • Build an emergency kit.

Preparing the outside of your home and creating defensible space is important before wildfire season hits. Ways to potentially save your home from a total loss include cleaning out gutters, raking and removing pine needles and dry leaves to a minimum of three to five feet from your home’s foundation, sweeping porches and decks, pruning low-hanging tree branches to a height of four feet from the ground, and adding screens to your home’s vents to keep embers from entering.

The division’s wildfire insurance and disaster preparedness pages have more resources to help people prepare for and recover from disasters. We have resources available in multiple langauges. Visit dfr.oregon.gov/help for more information.

DFR consumer advocates can answer insurance questions and manage complaints and DFR’s outreach team can provide presentations to communities on how to be disaster ready. Contact DFR at outreach.dfr@dcbs.oregon.gov.

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The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.