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July 16, 1996

L&I teams with local businesses to reduce accidents, lower costs

BELLINGHAM - Labor & Industries employees are teaming up with 10 Whatcom County businesses to help reduce their workers' compensation premiums and to better protect their employees from job-related injuries and illnesses.

"This team approach is part of L&I's commitment to forge new partnerships with employers in Whatcom County," said Shaheed Nuriddin, regional administrator for L&I. "We are coordinating our resources to improve service delivery to some of our customers who can really benefit from our assistance."

This is the first assignment for L&I's recently formed "Whatcom County Consultation Team." The team is made up of experts in the fields of safety, industrial hygiene, loss control, occupational therapy, return-to-work and limited claims consultation services. The services are offered without charge.

"We will offer integrated services to these 10 employers over the next year," said Robbie Rotz, an L&I loss control representative in Bellingham. "We hope we can really make a difference with these employers."

The employers were selected based on the number of employees, the amount of industrial insurance premiums to the department and their experience factor - the measure the department uses to assess what they pay to L&I for workers' compensation insurance. An employer's experience factor is based on a three year history of claims filed with the department.

Rotz said the employers, who met with the team for the first time in mid-June, are enthusiastic about the team approach. While L&I consultants have worked individually with employers for decades, the coordinated effort is a new way of doing business for the agency.

"The team approach helps because we get our rates down and learn to deal with our claims more effectively," said Carla Wood, interim director of Home Attendant Care, Inc., of Bellingham.

Ginger Isenhour, a registered nurse with The St. Francis Extended Health Care, said, "St. Francis is anxious to participate in the program in order to provide our employees a work environment that is active but safe and free of injuries. We also want to improve our programs so they are workable."

For more information, contact L&I's Bellingham office at 360-647-7300.

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