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May 18, 2000

All telecommunications contractors must register with L&I by June 8

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries is warning anyone currently installing or maintaining telecommunications systems that they need to be licensed by L&I as an electrical contractor or registered with L&I as a general or telecommunications/cabling specialty construction contractor by June 8, 2000.

If they don't register or obtain a license by the June 8 deadline, they cannot be "grandfathered in" and must meet all the testing requirements of the new telecommunications law (2SSB 5802) passed by the 2000 Legislature.

State law has long required any contractor doing telecommunications installation or maintenance - generally involving data cabling - to be registered as a general or specialty contractor with L&I. But the telecommunications law will require all telecommunications contractors to become licensed specifically for this kind of work. They also must obtain a permit and inspection for any major telecommunications work they perform.

A test now being developed by L&I in collaboration with the telecommunications industry and a national testing agency will be designed to accurately judge whether a person knows how to safely install and maintain telecommunications equipment.

For information on how to become registered as a contractor, see L&I's contractor web site.

The Legislature passed the telecommunications law because unsafe installations were found to be a problem in the state's rapidly expanding telecommunications industry. The law will require that telecommunications contractors be insured and bonded and licensed with L&I. They must also appoint a telecommunications administrator who has been certified by L&I. Certification of general workers is not required.

"Using such innovative tools as the Internet, Labor & Industries will continue to strive to keep pace with the growth of the telecommunications industry and provide excellent customer service," said L&I Assistant Director for Specialty Compliance Patrick Woods.

Telecommunications contractors will be able to apply for permits and schedule their inspections via the Internet just like electrical permits. "L&I's goal is to continue completing 85 per cent or more inspections within 24 hours," said Woods.

According to Woods, L&I will continue working with telecommunications industry organizations to develop the administrative rules and procedures and the testing process for the telecommunications law that will go into effect June 8, 2000. L&I will gradually phase in enforcement activity as advised by telecommunications stakeholder groups and the electrical board.

"Labor & Industries is working to protect the lives and property of Washington citizens by making sure telecommunications systems are installed and maintained properly by licensed contractors," said Woods. "L&I wants to make sure their work is safe and to protect citizens economically by making sure telecommunications contractors are licensed, insured and bonded."

If you want to see if a contractor is registered, you can do it using L&I's contractor registration database or call the toll-free contractor hotline number 1-800-647-0982.

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