News for Small Business - October 2005


Don't get ripped off paying for free workplace posters

L&I continues to get questions from business owners about tough-sounding mailers that warn you to buy workplace posters or face stiff fines. These mailers come from private marketing firms, not a state or federal government agency. You can get all of these posters (state and federal) at no charge through L&I and the state Employment Security Department.

Are posters changing for 2006?
  • Federal — No announced changes
  • State unemployment benefits (Employment Security Department) – No changes
  • State workplace rights, injury reporting, and workplace safety posters (L&I) – Two changes:
    • Your Rights as a Non-Agricultural Worker has been revised for 2006. You are required to use the updated version of this poster if it applies to your business. It will be available by December 1, 2005.
    • State minimum wage poster will change to reflect the 2006 Washington state minimum wage. This poster is recommended but is NOT required. It also will be available by December 1, 2005.
How do I get new posters for free?
  • Download or order free L&I posters on the web. (
  • Contact the Business Representative at your local WorkSource center to request the free state unemployment poster and/or federal “5-in-1” poster. The 5-in-1 poster includes important employee notices required by the federal government.

What about the new federal requirements around employing or reemploying veterans (USERRA)?

(This information added 10/27/05)

The federal government now requires employers to notify their employees of workers’ rights under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, known as USERRA. Technically, the poster is not required. The wording on the poster itself says: "Federal law requires employers to notify employees of their rights under USERRA, and employers may (our emphasis added) meet this requirement by displaying this notice where they customarily place notices for employees."

L&I confirmed with the U.S. Department of Labor that you can meet the notification requirement by printing the poster from the web and displaying it at your business along with other workplace posters.  You can access the USERRA poster at: This poster also is available in Spanish.  Printed versions of either poster can also be ordered by calling 1-866-4-USA-DOL.

Tools to Save Time and Money

Workers’ comp premiums: Protect your claim-free discount

Your claim-free discount can go away for three years after one worker injury that requires L&I to pay wage-replacement (time-loss) benefits or a disability award. Losing that discount could increase your premiums by 10 to 40 percent, depending on the size of your company. How can you protect your claim-free discount? Preventing injuries and illnesses is the best plan, of course. If an employee is injured, make light-duty or part-time work available. In some cases, keeping the employee on the payroll while he or she recovers will actually save you money in the long run. Talk to your account manager or call 360-902-4817 to find out if you’re currently receiving a claim-free discount, and what L&I can do to help you reduce your premium costs. You can also read the Employer’s Return-to-Work Guide for some ideas. Call your local L&I office for a free copy or print it from the web. (

Do you employ teens? Keep parent/school authorization forms up to date

When you hire teens under 18 and they work during the school year, you must keep a signed parent/school authorization form on file for each teen worker. When school is in session, both the minor’s parent or legal guardian and school must complete the form. For summer work, only the parent or guardian must sign. Prior to September 30 of each school year, you need to have on file a new parent/school authorization form signed by a parent/guardian and a school representative. If you’re late, or if you made a new hire since September 30, please have the form signed and in your files as soon as possible. Forms are available at your local L&I office, or you can download the parent/school authorization form from the L&I web site.

Rates Watch — an insurance ‘check up’ for industries with rising rates

Rates Watch takes an in-depth look at workers’ comp rates in specific industries where rates are rising faster than the annual average. The two-page summary tackles these questions: How many companies are in the risk classification? Are those companies accurately reporting hours worked? Are injuries increasing? Are the injuries more severe? Informative charts, prevention strategies and safety referrals help employers understand what they can do to reduce their premiums. New editions of Rates Watch are coming for the sheet metal, home health care and masonry industries. Tow-truck operators (Classification 1109-00) received their analysis last May.

Focus On — Construction

These safety posters used on construction sites are also available in Spanish.

L&I Safety Education Posters
Title Order Poster in English Order Poster in Spanish

Caution: Hard Hat Area






DANGER: Construction Area



DANGER: Workers Above



Call 1-800-4BE-SAFE or e-mail to request any of these posters in Spanish or English. You can also download them from the L&I web site.

Small Business Contact at L&I:

Ron Langley
Small Business Liaison
Phone: 360-902-4205
Fax: 360-902-5420

Want to subscribe to L&I News for Small Business? Contact Ron via the contact information listed above.

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