News for Small Business - June 2006

News

Pilot project to allow some workers’ compensation claims to be filed through employers

L&I is looking for about 500 employers to help test a new way for Washington workers to file workers’ compensation claims.

The state Legislature has approved a two-year pilot project giving workers the option of filing workers’ compensation claims through their employer. Up to 500 employers will participate in the project the first year, and as many as 250 more will be added in fiscal year 2008.

Between now and October, L&I is lining up employers interested in participating in the project. If you are interested, please send an e-mail to EmployerReporting@LNI.wa.gov.

Unlike most states, workers’ compensation claims in Washington are filed through injured workers’ physicians rather than through employers. The doctor is then responsible for sending the accident report to L&I.

L&I will evaluate injury claims over two years to determine if reporting claims through employers delivers lower claim costs and better outcomes for workers. Because L&I will be measuring claim results, only employers who regularly have, or who L&I would anticipate having, workers’ compensation claims can participate.

“We believe this will benefit employers as well as injured workers,” says Bob Malooly, who leads L&I’s Insurance Services division. “Employers who know about a claim early are in the best position to keep a worker on salary or offer light-duty work while they recover. That lowers claim costs and maintains the connection between the employer and his or her injured worker.”


Protecting workers from heat stress:

Education on new requirements under way; enforcement starts in July

Employers are expected this summer to have safety plans and to train their workers to spot the signs of heat stress and what to do when a worker is suffering from too much heat exposure on an outdoor job.

Inspectors are checking for those requirements now, but won’t be handing out citations right away.

A man standing in the hot sun.The emergency rule covering outdoor heat stress took effect June 1. State safety and health manager Steve Cant says inspectors will focus for now getting employers up to speed, while enforcement will start on July 1.

A Draft WISHA Regional Directive (WRD) details the requirements — you can find the WRD at www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Rules/Policies/PDFs/WRD1120.pdf. L&I will use the WRD as guidance for employers and L&I inspectors, but the agency is still open to comments and questions that can help improve it.

L&I is delivering free, 30- to 60-minute train-the-trainer sessions to prepare employers, risk managers, and safety managers. You can also order videos, publications, and training tools that work best for your organization. L&I trainers can come to your training location at a time convenient to you if you can arrange for 10 or more students to participate. Contact workshopsched@lni.wa.gov or call 1-800-574-2829.

What exactly does L&I expect employers to do to protect workers from outdoor heat stress? Employers must:

  • Evaluate their outdoor workplaces to determine if their employees will be at risk from heat-related illness during hot weather.
  • Ensure they have and follow an appropriate safety plan that recognizes heat-stress hazards and includes training that teaches employees to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness and to know what to do if they or a co-worker show those symptoms.
  • Follow the same rules employers already were required to follow for first-aid training, safety programs and supplying sufficient drinking water.

More resources:

For L&I’s recent Hot Weather Advisory that outlines how to recognize and respond to symptoms of heat stress, please select:
www.lni.wa.gov/safety/topics/atoz/heatstress/files/FinalHotweatheradvisory5-19-2006.pdf

For more information on preventing heat-related illness, please select: www.LNI.wa.gov/safety/topics/AtoZ/heatstress.


Tools to Save Time and Money

One Employer Report of Accident is all it takes

When you have a workplace injury and a workers’ compensation claim, one thing you need to do as soon as possible is submit an “Employer Report of Accident.” This short, one-third page form tells the L&I claim manager critical information, including your knowledge of the injured worker, their job, how the accident occurred, and whether you as an employer think the claim is valid.

Each party to a claim – the injured worker, the employer, and the doctor — fills out a report of accident form. The employer portion establishes the employer as a key player in the claim process.

L&I now gives an employer several ways to file their Employer Report of Accident form. Occasionally, this turns into too much of a good thing, and employers wonder whether they need to file multiple copies of the form.

The answer is no. One copy of the Employer Report of Accident form will do the job for you. Here are your options:

  • L&I now mails information about a new claim and an Employer Report of Accident form to you when a claim is assigned to your L&I account. You can fill out the form and return it by mail.
  • L&I no longer requires a doctor or other medical provider to mail the Employer Report of Accident form to you after they see the worker and complete their portion of the form. However, providers may ask the injured worker to hand-deliver the employer’s copy of worker and medical provider portions of the form to their employer. You can complete and return the employer portion of this form by mail directly to L&I.
  • You can file an Employer Report of Accident online through the L&I Claim and Account Center any time after the accident. You don’t have to wait for the report from the worker or medical provider. You can even complete the Employer’s Report of Accident at the Claim & Account Center as soon as you find out about the injury. To access the Claim and Account center, go to www.ClaimInfo.LNI.wa.gov and register. The system will ask you for your “PAC” code in order to verify that you are an employer. You can find that code in the lower left corner if your quarterly workers’ compensation billing statement.

If you have questions about the Employer Report of Accident form, contact your L&I account manager or L&I’s Small Business Liaison at 360-902-4205 (e-mail SmallBusiness@LNI.wa.gov).


Featured L&I web page

“Doing Business in Washington” web site gets your government work done faster

"Doing Business in Washington" is a web site for businesses, providing a one-stop gateway to government services and information from more than a dozen Washington state agencies.

To find the site, go to the state web site at www.Access.wa.gov and click on the “Doing Business” tab at the top of the home page.

Doing business in Washington
A few examples of what you can do:

  • The “Start a Business” section takes you step-by-step through the registration, licensing, permits and certifications you need to start your particular kind of business.
  • The “Licenses, Permits and Inspections” section helps you check, obtain or renew a broad range of business or professional licenses, and get electrical, environmental and other kinds of state permits.
  • The “Taxes and Reports” section give you access to online filing of taxes, unemployment insurance taxes and workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

Watch as new and improved services are added to the “Doing Business in Washington” site this fall and in future years.


Focus On: WISHA gets a name change

New name, structure, leader for state workplace safety and health experts

Steve Cant, AD for Safety and Health

New L&I Division of Occupational Safety and Health chief Steve Cant.

L&I has changed the name of its safety and health division to Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or DOSH.

The division was formerly named WISHA, after the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act. While that name clearly describes Washington’s industrial safety law, it doesn’t say much about what people in the safety and health division do.

The new name also more accurately describes a newly restructured safety and health operation that is designed to aggressively market L&I’s no-charge safety and health consultations, training workshops and educational materials, while doing a better job of making sure that laws and rules are enforced consistently across the state.

Leading these changes is Steve Cant, who was appointed head of DOSH in March. Cant is a certified industrial hygienist who has been with L&I since 1975, most recently as the agency's principal liaison to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).


Small Business Contact at L&I:

Ron Langley
Small Business Liaison
Phone: 360-902-4205
Fax: 360-902-5420
E-mail: SmallBusiness@LNI.wa.gov

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

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