News for Small Business — July 2013

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

This is a quarterly roundup of L&I news for small business. It's produced by the L&I Small Business Liaison Office, who can provide business owners with information and assistance resolving issues.

Join our email list to get future newsletters in your inbox. You can also read previous editions.

July 2013:

L&I's new Independent Contractor Guide can help you avoid an unwanted surprise

Independent Contractor Guide

If L&I had audited your business today, would the auditor find you should have paid workers' comp on your independent contractors? L&I auditors often find this mistake, and the results can be expensive.

Many business owners – and even their bookkeepers – believe that anyone who passes the IRS's independent contractor test also passes the independent contractor test in state law. However, they are not the same.

L&I has just released an updated independent contractor guide to help everyone better understand Washington's 6-point test (7 points for construction contractors).

The new booklet:

  • Takes you step-by-step through the independent contractor test in the same way L&I auditors approach it.
  • Provides helpful examples of when a person will and won't pass the test.
  • Tells you the types of documentation you'll need as evidence that your independent contractor meets the test.
Read the guide online, print it, or order copies.

Save the date! Biz Fair 2013 1 day, 1 place

Learn from experts how to plan, start and run a successful business at the 17th annual Washington Small Business Fair, also known as "Biz Fair".

Biz Fair 2013 happens Saturday, September 28, 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Renton Technical College, 3000 NE 4th Street, in Renton.

A presentation at the 2012 BizFair

A presentation at last year's Biz Fair.

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 25 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.

Basic electrical requirements that every business should know

As your small business liaisons, we like to highlight information that can help you avoid fines and penalties by knowing and complying with the law from the beginning.

In April, we pointed out common mistakes by business owners who unwittingly ran afoul of Washington's contractor registration laws. You can still read that article from our last newsletter – "Does your services business needs a contractor registration? It just might!"

Common misunderstandings

Electrical wiring work

In this issue, we talk about misunderstandings of electrical laws that have tripped up some of our business customers:

  • Small "mom and pop" computer consulting business received electrical infractions for installing sound system components in a building and failing to get the proper permits. The business wasn't an electrical contractor and their employees weren't properly credentialed. The owners thought that the work performed didn't fall under the definition of "electrical work."
  • A specialty construction contractor, who was properly registered to install signs, received an electrical infraction because he performed work on an electric sign that required an electrical license and proper credentialing.
  • A business that didn't understand the laws for installation or servicing of appliances that are "hard wired" versus "cord-and-plug."
  • A registered HVAC contractor that performed installation work without meeting electrical contractor licensing requirements.

Important points to remember

  • Electrical work has a broad definition and covers a wide range of activities. It can be as big as multimillion-dollar industrial power distribution and controls or as small as limited energy camera or speaker systems. It is your responsibility to know the law before the work begins.
  • Electrical work is serious business and improper work can put people and property at risk. That's why most electrical work requires a permit and inspection.
  • Most electrical work must be done by a qualified person.
  • Even if you aren't actually doing the electrical work, but subcontracting it to another business on behalf of your customer, you must be a registered contractor.

More information


Contact L&I's Electrical Division at 360-902-5269 or by email,

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Roofing company benefits from L&I's back-to-work strategy

When Fredi Medina, roofer with Tacoma's Guardian Roofing, suffered a shoulder injury while on the job, company co-owner Lori Swanson knew just what to do to help her valued employee recover, while keeping their experience factor in check. Watch the video to find out:


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Find new customers by exporting to foreign markets

Washington State ranks 4th in the nation in exports to other countries, with China, Japan, Canada, UAE, Korea, and Mexico being our top 6 customers.

Think that only big businesses like Boeing and Microsoft can successfully export to these markets? Think again! Think only products-based businesses can export? That's not true either.

Small businesses are profitably exporting products and services all over the world, and many have taken advantage of help from the Washington State Department of Commerce. An international trade specialist with the Department of Commerce can provide you with no-cost assistance and expertise with:

Container ship.
  • Business matching
  • Partner search
  • Market intelligence
  • Export finance counseling
  • Risk mitigation
  • Trade show support
  • Advocacy

For more information, visit the Department of Commerce's export-focused website at

To consult with a trade specialist, call 206-256-6100 or send an email to

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L&I calendar of upcoming training and workshops

Sign reading  workshop.

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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