WA's public service workers compensation bill will blow out to nearly $200 million this year, with the Government's insurer warning costs are rising much quicker than inflation because of higher public sector wages, soaring medical bills and legal costs.
RiskCover, the division of the Insurance Commission of WA which handles insurance arrangements for WA's public sector departments and agencies, said its budget for payments in 2013-14 would be close to $200 million, almost double the 2010 figure and triple what it was a decade ago.
The total workers compensation claims actually fell marginally in 2012-13 to 4998 from 5075 a year earlier.
But the average cost of a compensation claim has soared 52 per cent in five years, from $11,211 in 2008-09 to $17,031 in 2012-13.
And workers are spending longer on average off work, with the number of "severe" lost-time claims, defined as when an employee is injured and off work for more than 60 days, jumping 28 per cent since 2009.
Insurance Commission chief executive Rod Whithear said the value of claims had been "growing at a concerning rate".
"The major components of the overall cost of workers compensation claims are claimants' wages, medical and allied health expenses and legal costs," he said. "All of these components have seen significant price increases."
Similar cost pressures are affecting claims for motor vehicle accidents met by ICWA's compulsory third-party insurance scheme, putting pressure on premiums for motorists.
Figures from agency annual reports reveal there were 1604 workers compensation claims from the Department of Education, 1037 from the Metropolitan Health Service, 270 from the Country Health Service and 493 from Corrective Services, where workers have been criticised by Minister Joe Francis for what he has called a "compo culture".
Though claims in most departments fell or were stable, in Corrective Services they jumped 20 per cent.Community and Public Sector Union secretary Toni Walkington said compensation cases were taking longer to resolve because departments had outsourced investigation and risk management work to "combative" and "punitive" assessors who were not focused on getting employees back to work.