News for Small Business — September 2012

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September 2012 | L&I's Small Business Liaisons, Celia Nightingale and Aaron Hoffman Call: 1-800-987-0145. Fax: 360-902-5420. Email:

L&I proposes no general increase in workers' comp rate for 2013

The Department of Labor & Industries has announced there will be no overall increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums next year. If adopted, this would be the second year in a row with no overall increase in workers’ comp rates.

The decision to hold overall rates flat in 2013 is due to the landmark workers’ comp reforms passed in 2011 and fewer long-term disabilities. L&I has published a rate table online that shows the proposed 2013 base rates for each risk class.

While there will be no overall rate increase, individual employers may see their rates go up or down, depending on their recent claims history and changes in the frequency and cost of claims in their industry. Employers can get an estimate of their business’s 2013 rates based on the rate proposal now by calling their workers’ comp account manager. Employers can find the name and telephone number of their account manager by entering either their business’s name, UBI, or workers’ comp account number into L&I’s online account lookup tool. L&I will adopt final rates in early December and send an individual rate notice to each employer beginning in the middle of December.

Washington is the only state where workers pay a significant portion of premiums. Next year, their share will be an average of about 24 percent. The annual rate notice will specify the exact amount per hour that employers may deduct.

Public hearings on the proposed rates will be held in:

  • Tukwila, Oct. 23, 10 a.m., L&I office.
  • Bellingham, Oct. 23, 1 p.m., Public Library Lecture Room.
  • Spokane, Oct. 24, 10 a.m., CenterPlace Event Center.
  • Richland, Oct. 25, 10 a.m., Community Center Activity Room.
  • Tumwater, Oct. 26, 10 a.m., L&I Auditorium.
  • Vancouver, Oct. 29, 10 a.m., Red Lion at the Quay, Quayside Portside Room.

More information regarding the rate proposal is available at The final rates will be adopted in early December and go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

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Save the date! Biz Fair 2012 — 1 day, 1 place

Learn from experts how to form and run a successful business at the 16th annual Washington Small Business Fair. Biz Fair 2012 happens Saturday, September 29, 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Renton Technical College, 3000 NE 4th Street, in Renton.

Sharpen your skills — attend seminars that cover important, up-to-date topics for all stages of business ownership. Savvy business experts share their knowledge and real-life experiences with you.

Save valuable time and money — connect with 30 federal, state and local government agencies, and business and trade associations to get the information you need. The fair is free, with plenty of free parking and no advance registration required. Visit the Biz Fair website for more information.

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Safety and health grants available for innovative return-to-work ideas

Do you have an innovative idea for helping injured workers return to work after an injury? If so, the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) would like to hear from you and we may even help fund your project.

A new round of grants through the Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) program makes $1,000,000 available to fund development and implementation of effective return-to-work programs. Priority for funding will be given to proposals that involve the cooperation of employers and employees or their representatives, and 25% of funding will go for projects that specifically address the needs of small business.

The grant money for return-to-work projects was made available as part of the workers’ compensation reforms passed by the 2011 Washington Legislature and signed into law by Governor Gregoire.

Promoting new return-to-work projects is an important part of the reforms because research shows that helping injured workers get back to work after an injury helps them recover quicker, reduces long-term disability and lowers overall workers’ comp costs.

To qualify:

  • You must have a proposal designed to develop and implement innovative and effective return-to-work programs for injured workers.
  • You may apply on your own or in partnership with a business, trade association, labor organizations, or other approved entities that pay workers’ compensation premiums.
  • L&I has extended the deadline and applications will be accepted until further notice.

Single grants for up to $150,000 for a single project will be available during this application cycle. An 8-member SHIP Advisory Committee comprised of persons from business, labor, academia, and workplace safety and health, will make the grant funding decisions. Successful applicants will be required to attend a grantee orientation to receive specific guidance and information about managing their grant.

Since 2007 when the program was originally created, SHIP grants have funded 52 projects. For information on past awardees and projects funded, visit SHIP Grants Awarded.

For more information or an application packet, visit or call 360-902-5588.

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L&I calendar of upcoming training and workshops

Build your skills for managing workplace safety, workers' compensation and construction contracting at an L&I workshop or training session near you. Read the list of currently available workshops, or better yet sign up for a free service that regularly sends the latest training calendar straight to your email.

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