The Workers Compensation Fund of Utah is awarding $40 million in dividends to 22,500 policyholders, bringing to $120 million the amount the fund has paid out in dividends in the past five years.

Beginning June 1, the fund will pay the dividends to eligible policyholders, which are the ones with the lowest cost ratios due to a low number of injured workers, said Lane Summerhays, fund president and chief executive officer."We've had a tremendous return on last year's investments, which has contributed in part to this year's dividend pay out. As a mutual company owned by its policyholders, each policyholder shares in that success," he said.

The schedule of payments has been filed and approved by the Utah Insurance Department and approved by the fund's board of directors. Policyholders can obtain copies of the dividend payment schedule by calling 288-8322 or accessing the web site at (www.wcf-utah.com).

Summerhays said the fund liquidated is stock portfolio last year when the stock market had serious fluctuations and the fund continued investing in money funds. This year, with the stock market showing signs of more stability, 15-20 percent of the fund's investment portfolio is in the stock market.

In addition to the dividends given to policyholders this year, Summerhays is looking at lowering workers' compensation insurance premiums again this year. Workers compensation insurance premiums this year in Utah total $175 million, down from the $294 million in 1994.

In addition to safety programs resulting in a smaller number of serious injuries and resultant claims, the premium decrease can also be attributed to a reduction of fraud and several other reasons, Summerhays said.