News for Small Business - News for L&I small business customers and tips for saving time and moneyI
June 2009

Workplace fatalities most common among small business, younger workers, and in motor vehicles

Data show that traumatic injury fatalities (sudden workplace deaths) happen more frequently at small businesses.  Firms with 1 to 20 workers employed 25 percent of all workers in Washington in 2008, but had 60 percent of all workplace deaths.

Among all employers, the top three traumatic incident fatalities by incident type in  Washington in 2008 were, by percentage:
• 30 percent involving a motor vehicle incident
• 16 percent involving accidents with machinery
• 16 percent involving “struck by object” incidents.

Among all employers, traumatic incident fatalities by age group (when the age of the victim is known) were, by percentage:

• 40 percent in the 25-44 age group
• 26 percent in the 45-54 age group
• 9 percent in the 55-64 age group.

L&I can help employers build safe workplaces:
• Build and use an Accident Prevention Program (required by law). You can find templates at www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety.
• Use L&I’s no-charge, confidential safety consultation services.  Contact L&I's Small Business Liaison or contact your nearest L&I safety consultant.

• Find dozens of training pamphlets, videos and PowerPoint presentations on the L&I Web site at www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety.

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Small business "bridge" loans offered by SBA

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is accepting loans of up to $35,000 designed to provide a “bridge” for viable small businesses with immediate financial hardship.  Select the following link to learn more about SBA "ARC" loans on the SBA Web site.

 

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Tools to save time and money

 

New booklet has A to Z on prevailing wage law

Contractors going after public works projects now have a new “Prevailing Wage Law” booklet to help them understand prevailing wage laws and rules.
Features of the booklet include:
• Laws and rules written in plain language to help readers better understand what they need to do.
• Applicable laws (“RCWs”) and related regulations (“WACs”) are provided at the end of each section for quick reference.
• Online version has clickable links to RCWs, prevailing wage laws, documents, and other helpful Web sites.
• L&I phone numbers, e-mail addresses and Web site information are provided to help you easily find answers to your questions.
Select this link to read the new prevailing wage booklet online or to order a paper copy.

Help understanding state leave laws

L&I now has a specialist who can help you understand when employers must provide unpaid leave to workers who face medical or other issues in their lives. David Johnson is L&I's new Protected Leave Supervisor and can answer your questions regarding Washington’s leave laws, including:

Family Leave Act

Allows employees leave from work for certain medical reasons.

Family Care Act

Employees may use paid time off to care for a sick child, or spouse, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent, who have serious health conditions.

Military Family Leave Act

Spouses of military personnel may take up to 15 unpaid days off from work while their spouse is on leave from deployment, or before and up to deployment, during times of military conflict declared by the President or Congress.

Leave for Domestic Violence Leave Law

Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, may take reasonable, paid or unpaid leave from work, to take care of legal or law enforcement needs, or medical treatment, social services assistance or mental-health counseling.  This law also applies to family members of a domestic violence victim.

For more information on these laws please visit L&I’s “Leave from Work" Web page or contact David Johnson at 360-902-4930.

 

Workers’ comp online filing has useful new features

Check out new features recently added to L&I’s online quarterly reporting system, which can be found at www.QuarterlyReports.Lni.wa.gov.


As before, there are two ways to file online.  Quick File allows you to file your report and pay premiums without going through online security screens. The more robust Claim and Account Center requires secure access, and provides extensive information about an employer’s workers’ compensation account and active claims.


New features on the Claim and Account Center:


• Amended reports: Make changes to previous reports filed on the system.  When you make a change, the system will send a request to your L&I account manager to review the amended report and tell you whether the revised report is accepted or needs additional work.
• Late reports: These can be filed online after the filing deadline. Penalties and interest still apply.
• Save and Complete Later: Save draft reports and file them later, or have them reviewed by others before being submitted.

For help with the Online Filing System, call L&I’s Web Help Desk at 360-902-5999, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

L&I training and workshops for June and July

Build your skills for managing workplace safety, workers’ comp and construction contracting at an L&I workshop or training session near you. Sign up for a free service that regularly sends the latest training calendar straight to your e-mail. Click this link: www.lni.wa.gov/Main/Listservs/LNITraining.asp.

Select this link to read the June/July Training Calendar.

 

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Rules, regulations and laws update

New legislation affecting L&I and small business

Washington State Legislative Building

Here are some of the law changes passed by the 2009 Washington State Legislature that affect L&I and its small business customers. For a summary of all 2009 L&I-related legislation, please go to the L&I Legislative Center.


All new laws noted below take effect on July 26, 2009.

SSB 5042 – Waiver of penalties for first-time paperwork violations by small businesses.

  • Prohibits agencies from assessing fines, penalties, or administrative sanctions against businesses with 250 or fewer employees for first-time paperwork violations. The legislation provides exceptions related to public safety, collection of taxes and revenue, or when a federal law requires the penalty.
  • L&I is researching how this bill will affect its various areas of responsibility. Fines already are waived for first-time general violations of WISHA safety regulations. General violations are those that do not pose an imminent risk to health and safety.

E2SSB 5688 – Expanding the rights and responsibilities of state-registered domestic partners. (Note: Enactment of this bill may be affected by a citizen referendum.)

  • Extends workers’ compensation benefits and crime victims’ compensation benefits currently available to spouses to include state-registered domestic partners. Pension options and survivor benefits are two examples.
  • Adds state-registered domestic partners to RCW 49.12 – Industrial Welfare Act (family leave, for example). Select this link to find more information on family leave.

SHB 1555 – Recommendations of the joint legislative task force on the underground economy in the construction industry.

  • Requires registered contractors licensed under RCW 18.27 (contractor registration law) to maintain a list of subcontractors used and copies of their construction registration. The information will be used by the construction compliance program and auditing/compliance efforts for workers’ compensation.
  • Requires L&I to maintain an employer education program on workers’ compensation reporting requirements and, in particular, independent contractor issues.

SHB 1055 – Requiring workers to have licenses, certificates, or permits in their possession when performing work in certain construction trades.

  • Requires licensed and certified electricians, elevator mechanics, and plumbers to have their appropriate certifications or licenses and photo identification card in their possession while working.
  • Gives L&I the authority to adopt a rule to require electricians, plumbers, and conveyance (elevator/escalator) workers to wear and visibly display their licenses, certificates, permits, and endorsements while working, and to include photo identification on these documents.

SHB 1402 – Restricting contact with medical providers after appeals have been filed under workers’ compensation claims.

  • Prescribes under what circumstances parties to a claim (employer, worker, and L&I) can have contact with medical providers when an issue is on appeal.
  • Limits contact with potential medical witnesses by opposing parties once an appeal of an L&I decision has been received by the parties.

Proposed changes to selected workers' comp risk classes

Adjustments are proposed in several workers' comp risk classes. Review all of the proposed changes in the Rule Updates section of the L&I Web sit.  A public hearing is scheduled for July 7 at the L&I building in Tumwater.  Here are a few examples of proposed changes:

0516 Building repair and carpentry NOC -- Would allow remodelling contractors to report all hours in this class, or use 0516 and different construction-related classes when appropriate.

1109 Towing services --Clarifies that this risk class covers for-hire towing services rather than firms that operate tow trucks as an element of their business (for example, a repair shop uses a truck to haul customer vehicles to the shop for repair). This change also clarifies that the class applies to all employees in the firm, not just drivers and assistants.

4910 Property management -- In response to the construction industry downturn, L&I would allow developers to maintain and repair unsold homes using the property management risk class rather than more expensive construction classes.

 

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