COLUMBUS — Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation proposes 20 cuts in workers' compensation premiums for 242,000 private employers.

Ohio's private employers covered by the state's workers' compensation system are in line for another premium cut.

And this one is big.

The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation on Thursday proposed a 20 percent cut, the largest cut in nearly 60 years.

Rates for the 242,000 public and private employers covered by the bureau are at the lowest levels in at least 40 years, the bureau said.

If approved by the agency's board when it meets next month, the cuts would go into effect July 1.

Claims history, industry and other factors determine what a company pays. In general, the reduction would save an employer about $2,000 for every $1 million in payroll, or a total of $244 million.

The bureau credits fewer injuries and falling estimates of future health care costs for the proposed reduction. Workers compensation, in effect, is an insurance policy to provide income and pay medical expenses for workers injured on the job and their families.

Claims have been trending lower for the past 20 years, falling by about two-thirds to 85,136 claims last year.

"We're pleased Ohio employers recognize that workplace safety is vital to the health of their workforce, their businesses and our state's economy," said Stephanie McCloud, the bureau's administrator and CEO, in a statement.

"Their efforts to promote safe and healthy workplaces are clearly paying off, and they're making it easier for us to maintain low and stable workers' compensation rates now and into the future."

The reductions are good news for Ohio employers, said Andrew Doehrel, chairman and president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

"It frees up resources to do other things," he said.

Business owners figure to use the extra money to buy equipment, give raises to workers or make other investments, he said.

Also, lower premiums give the state an edge compared with other states when it comes to luring companies to Ohio, he said.

Doehrel said the lower costs reflect how work has changed in the state. Technology and robotics, for example, have made workplaces safer and reduced the risk of injury.

The bureau also gets credit for managing its money, he said.

The cut would be the ninth rate cut for private employers since 2008 and follows a 12 percent cut last year. There have been no increases in rates since 2006. The bureau reduced rates for public employers by 12 percent in a move that went into effect Jan. 1.