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New Printing Equipment May Result In Changing Workers’ Comp Classification

It’s always exciting to buy sexy new technology or expand your offerings. But did you know this can have implications for your insurance coverage?

When printing, publishing and duplicating companies purchase equipment that allows for new products and services, it can change the applicable classifications of their employees on their workers’ comp policy.

The California Workers’ Compensation Uniform Statistical Report’s “Printing, Publishing and Duplicating Industry Group” has 23 classifications applicable to various segments of the printing, publishing and duplicating industry. It can be confusing to know which one applies to your operations.

But once you have your class code, it can change again if you make a single change to your printing, publishing, or duplicating operations. Take the case of two similar classes and how one change can result in a classification change for the workers.

Many small and medium-sized printing and duplicating companies are assigned to:

  • Classification 8019(1), Printing – quick printing, or
  • Classification 8019(2), Document duplication or photocopying service.

Each of the above classifications includes footnotes that define and restrict the operations that can be assigned to the classification.

Classification 8019(1) applies to those locations engaged in job printing using sheet-fed offset printing presses on paper not exceeding 18″ x 24″. This classification does not apply to locations that use roll-fed presses or where the paper fed to the press exceeds 18″ x 24″.

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau has received questions regarding the applicable classification when a quick print shop converts from individual sheet to roll-fed paper. The use of roll-fed paper disqualifies an employer from assignment to Classification 8019(1).

Instead: Firms conducting offset printing on roll-fed paper, or on sheets larger than 18″ x 24″, are assigned to one of two companion classifications:

  • 4299(1), Printing Operation – all other employees, or
  • 8813(1), Printing Operation – editing, designing, proofreading, and photographic composing.

Classification 8019(2) applies to those locations engaged in document duplication or photocopying on a job basis using electrostatic copiers, scanners, ink jet or laser printers on paper of any size.

But this class has many restrictions. For example, it does not apply to:

  • Locations that perform offset printing.
  • Offset printing, but it does apply to other types of document printing including electrostatic duplication, ink jet and laser printing.

There is no paper size restriction for Classification 8019(2) and, for this reason it often applies to the production of oversized documents such as technical drawings.

The large format printers at some document duplication shops are capable of printing on a variety of substrates such as vinyl and canvas in addition to paper. This equipment is often suited to the production of large format commercial banners and signs, vinyl vehicle wraps, and other advertising graphics in addition to documents.

But when an print shop expands beyond document duplication and uses large format ink jet printers, or similar equipment to produce signs and advertising graphics, its workers’ comp class will also change to Classification 9507(2), Sign Manufacturing – quick sign shops.


The two above cases show the subtleties between the classes but also the dividing line between them.

It’s important that you check with us if you’re buying new equipment that expands the kind of printing services you offer. One small change can put you in a different class code, which may either increase or decrease what you pay in premium.

If you don’t change class codes when you should, you could be faced with a call from your insurer asking for additional premium to account for the changes. The longer it takes for the insurer to discover the changes, the more premium they may try to claw back from you.

Contact Shannon Wolford, VMA’s Membership and Sales Director at 415-710-0568 or shannon@visualmediaalliance.org to make sure your print, packaging, or label  business have the right coverage.

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