News for Small Business — October 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.

March 2014:


Small Business Liaisons: fast, friendly help for Washington's small businesses.

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Do you have a business-related question or problem and you don’t know where to turn? Consider taking it to a small business liaison! Over 30 liaisons at 26 state agencies, boards and commissions are ready to assist you. If they can’t address your question or issue directly, they’re plugged in to their agencies and can connect you to someone who can.

In addition to helping individual business customers, the small business liaison team has a broader charge: 

  • Assisting with development of new business tools;
  • Gathering specific ideas for regulatory improvement;
  • Helping state agencies work together to assist small businesses;

Contact L&I Liaisons Celia Nightingale and Aaron Hoffman for assistance with workers’ compensation, safety & health, wage & hour, contractor registration, or any other L&I-related concern. For other agencies’ contacts, go to:  Washington Small Business Liaisons.

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Take charge of your Workers' Comp Costs

Businesses that want to control their workers’ comp insurance premiums know that safety comes first. More and more, they’re also learning that having a good Return to Work Program in place is equally important. 

Ways you can control your workers’ comp costs:
Want in-person help? Try these options:
  • Join other employers at a free workshop on how to mitigate the impact of an expensive workers’ comp claim.
Contact L&I for a free Risk Management Consultation for a customized understanding of expected financial impacts to your company, opportunities to control costs, and assistance with putting a Return to Work Program in place.

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Simplified Option for Federal Home Office Deduction.

Beginning in tax year 2013 (returns filed in 2014), taxpayers may use a simplified option when figuring the IRS deduction for business use of their home.

The new option does not change the criteria for who may claim a home office deduction. Eligibility for the deduction still requires exclusive use of part of the home for business purposes. The option merely simplifies the calculation and recordkeeping requirements
Highlights of the simplified option:

  • Standard deduction of $5 per square foot of home used for business (maximum 300 square feet). The deduction is assumed to cover utilities and other miscellaneous home-related costs.
  • Home-related itemized deductions can be claimed in full on Schedule A. (For example: Mortgage interest, real estate taxes).
  • No home depreciation deduction or later recapture of depreciation for the years the simplified option is used.
    Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees, are still fully deductible.
See the full article for more information, and speak to your tax professional about what makes sense for your business: Simplified Option for Home Office Deduction.

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Top 10 workplace safety and health violations.

If your business were to be inspected today, would L&I inspectors find any of these common safety and health violations?

Top 10 violations cited in 2013:

Lack of or deficiencies:

  1. Accident Prevention Program (Construction Industry)
  2. Employer Chemical Hazard Communication
  3. Basic Electrical Rules. Some examples include GFCI, outlets/covers/boxes, clearance, extension and flexible cords, guarding/grounding, or wet/damp locations.
  4. Fall Protection
  5. Safety Committee and Safety Meetings
  6. Personal Protective Equipment
  7. Accident Prevention Program (General Industry)
  8. Portable Fire Extinguishers
  9. First-Aid, which might include lack of available first-aid supplies or not having an emergency washing facility if chemicals are used.
  10. First-Aid Training and Certification

Most of the frequently cited violations above involve basic workplace safety and health laws that apply to all employers in the state.

You don’t need to go it alone if you think you might have a hazard or violation in your workplace!

  • Call L&I’s Consultation Services for a free and confidential safety and health consultation. L&I’s professional consultants will help you identify and eliminate hazards, prevent injuries and control your workers’ comp costs. If anything serious is discovered, you'll need to fix it. You won't be fined for an oversight. Learn more at www.SafetyConsultants.Lni.wa.gov.
  • Find many FREE resources and tools at www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety.

Find free workshops on a variety of safety and health topics at www.Workshops.Lni.wa.gov.

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Don't forget! Post your OSHA 300 log from Feb 1 to April 30

OSHA 300 Log

Federal law requires that most employers with ten or more employees log work-related injuries and illnesses using the OSHA 300 Log. The employer must post the log from February 1 to April 30 in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted.

What type of work-related injuries and illnesses must be reported?

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Restricted work activity or job transfer
  • Days away from work
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid
  • Significant work-related injuries or illnesses that are diagnosed by a licensed health care professional
  • Other work-related injuries or illnesses listed in the OSHA regulation

For more information on which employers must maintain the log and what injuries and illnesses to report, visit the L&I website – Recordkeeping Reporting/OSHA 300 topic page.

Need an OSHA 300 log? Follow this link - OSHA 300 Recordkeeping Forms. Or, contact your local L&I service location for help.

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Money available for innovative workplace safety ideas

Do you have an innovative project idea for helping injured workers return to work after an injury? How about a creative solution for improving workplace safety and health? If so, L&I would like to hear from you and may help fund your project with a grant from SHIP (Safety and Health Investment Projects).

What is SHIP? It is a program that funds projects to develop or implement effective return to work programs, OR programs that seek to reduce or eliminate injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the workplace.

The SHIP program gives priority to proposals that involve the cooperation of employers and employees or their representative. Twenty five percent of funding will go to projects that specifically address the needs of small business.

What do you need to know?

SHIP Grant Options

Return-to-Work

Safety and Health

Area of Focus

Programs that address the return-to-work needs of injured workers.

Workplace violence, Materials handling, Ladder safety, Logging safety, and Vulnerable workers such as non-English speakers or temporary workers.

Application Deadline

Open until further notice

March 31, 2014

Grant Money Limit

None

Not to exceed $125,000

If approved, when can I expect to receive grant money?

3-4 months after application date

June/July 2014

SHIP grant applications can be found at http://SafetyGrants.Lni.wa.gov
Not sure if your idea if workable as a SHIP grant?  SHIP Program Manager Jenifer Jellison welcomes your call. 
Call Jenifer at 360-902-5551.

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L&I calendar of upcoming training and workshops

Build your skills for managing workplace safety, workers' compensation, compliance with wage and hour laws, 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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