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

March 2010 | L&I's Small Business Liaison, Ron Langley and Aaron Hoffman Call: 1-800-987-0145. Fax: 360-902-5420. E-mail: SmallBusiness@LNI.wa.gov.

Unplanned duty: Dealing with a death on the job

When a business owner or manager has the awful duty of telling a worker’s family that their loved one won’t be coming home, half of the time that person is coming from a small business.

Data show that sudden workplace deaths happen much more often at small businesses relative to the number of workers they employ. L&I claims data showed 65 sudden workplace deaths in 2009, and employer size data was available on 60 of them. The victims of half (30) of those deaths were employees of firms with fewer than 20 workers, even though firms of that size had about 27 percent of all employees in Washington in 2009.

Among all employers, the top three “traumatic incident fatalities” by incident type in Washington in 2009 were, by percentage:

  • Homicide - 21.6 percent
  • Motor vehicle incidents - 16.6 percent
  • “Struck-by-object” - 15 percent

Seven workplace homicides were reported in 2009, and six of them were law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. All worked for employers with more than 20 workers.

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

  • 17.8 percent in the 36-45 age group
  • 19.6 percent in the 26-35 age group
  • 9 percent in the 16-25 age group

L&I can help you build a safe workplace

Try these no-cost services from L&I:

Worker Memorial Day

L&I will conduct a Worker Memorial Day ceremony April 28 to honor the memory of the workers who died from job-related injuries or illnesses. The event, at L&I headquarters in Tumwater, is Washington’s official commemoration and is one of many held in communities across the nation. L&I has hosted this ceremony for the past 17 years to recognize fallen workers, their families and friends.

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Tools to save time and money

New Report of Accident form includes registered domestic partners

L&I has updated its Report of Industrial Injury or Occupational Disease (Report of Accident) form to comply with a new Washington law giving registered domestic partners the same rights and benefits as married spouses. The Report of Accident form is used by medical providers to file workers’ comp claims with L&I.

The law, RCW 51.08.900, took effect on December 3, 2009 in response to a voter approved initiative allowing registered domestic partners to be treated the same as married couples under state law for various government-related benefits.

Medical providers have been asked by L&I to discard any old Report of Accident forms and avoid using blank forms dated earlier than November 2009.

If you have a claimant with a domestic partner who is entitled to benefits, and the provider has submitted the old form and the domestic partner was not listed, you should encourage your worker to contact his claim manager to provide this information right away as it can impact the benefit rate.

If you know of a provider that still uses the old form, please let them know about the updated forms. Health care providers can order copies of the new form by following this link.

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L&I training and workshops for April

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.

Read the March/April Training Calendar.

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New guide answers common wage and hour questions

Many employers ask us wage and hour laws. Now there’s a quick-reference guide on the L&I Web site called Wage-and-Hour Questions Employers Often Ask.The fact sheet is available online and can help you get answers to common questions about:

  • Pay requirements
  • Deductions from pay
  • Hiring a teen worker
  • Employee uniforms
  • Access to personnel files

If you have other wage and hour questions or need help with a specific situation, contact L&I Employment Standards staff at 1-866-219-7321 or go to www.WorkplaceRights.Lni.wa.gov.

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Rules, regulations and laws update

Legislative bills to watch . . .

Washington State Legislative Building

These bills have passed the Washington Legislature but have not yet taken effect. After being signed by the Governor, they will take effect approximately in mid-June -- 90 days after adjournment of the Legislature. We will provide details in our June newsletter. In the meantime, you can read the bills by selecting the links below.

2SHB 2603

Requires state agencies to provide small businesses with a copy of the state law or agency rule being violated and to allow a period of at least two business days for the small business to correct the violation before a fine, a civil penalty, or an administrative sanction is imposed. The bill includes several exemptions, including when the effect of the violation or waiver presents a direct danger to the public health, results in a loss of income or benefits to an employee, involves taxes or premiums due, poses a potentially significant threat to human health or the environment, or causes serious harm to the public interest. Note: Signed by Gov. Gregoire on March 24.

E2SHB 1096

The departments of General Administration (GA), Information Services, and Transportation must develop a plan to increase the number of small businesses receiving state contracts for goods and services. The goal of the plan is have the number of small businesses receiving state contracts be at least 50 percent higher by 2012 and at least 100 percent higher by 2014, compared to the number of contracts awarded to small businesses in 2009.

SSB 6349

Establishes a pilot program that allows owners of small farms in San Juan and Skagit counties to have interns work on their farms in exchange for agricultural education. The bill would exempt those interns from minimum wage and unemployment insurance, and would provide for a special workers’ compensation risk class. Farm owners would have to meet specific requirements in order to participate. Signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire on March 22.

2SSB 6575

Requires contractors who fail to register with L&I to take a training class, in addition to registering, to be eligible for a reduced penalty for a first-time offense. Update: Gov. Gregoire vetoed this bill on April 1, 2010, citing negative financial impacts.

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