News for Small Business


Potential heat stress rule a hot topic for business and labor

L&I will meet with business and labor representatives in late January on its draft workplace health and safety standard for heat stress. This standard, if eventually adopted, would be aimed at protecting outdoor workers from heat stress.

As currently drafted, the rule would require employers to provide basic protection for outdoor workers from heat stress during those few days when the outdoor temperature and humidity combination exceeds a safe heat stress index. Employers would need to supply adequate water and access to shade from the sun. The draft rule is similar to an emergency rule adopted last year in California which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced in August after four workers died of heat stroke. In the past 10 years, two workers have died from heat stroke in Washington and more than 400 have filed workers’ compensation claims for problems related to heat stress. Industries where heat-related injury claims most commonly occur are (in order) construction, public administration (public projects), manufacturing, and agriculture.

No formal rule on outdoor heat stress has been proposed at this point, and L&I will not decide whether to pursue an emergency rule until February at the soonest.

At its meeting on Jan. 12, the WISHA Construction Advisory Committee suggested that L&I try to avoid the emergency rule, which would put the new heat stress standard into effect next summer, and instead work with business and labor advocates on a permanent rule that, if pursued, would take effect after the summer season. The committee also agreed to provide member names to L&I to form a workgroup to help find a practical approach to addressing heat stress, including an information campaign about heat stress this summer. Acting WISHA Assistant Director Steve Cant agreed to work with the workgroup as the agency decides its next steps.

L&I sent a preliminary draft of a heat stress rule to a broad list of interested parties last December and took comments on it until Jan. 20. You can view the preliminary draft on the L&I web site at:

More background on heat stress is also available on the L&I web site at:

79 killed in Washington workplace accidents in 2005

The number of workers killed on the job in Washington declined from 93 last year to 79 in 2005, returning to a level more similar to 2003 and 2004.

The most common causes of workplace fatalities, in rank order:

  • Motor vehicle accidents other than commercial transportation (24.1%)
  • Machinery (21.5%)
  • Victim struck by an object (13.9%)
  • Commercial transportation - involving air, water, truck or rail accident (12.7%)
  • Victim fell from elevation (11.4%)

Please select the following links for:


Tools to Save Time and Money

An easier accident prevention program for your business

Save time and trouble when building your accident prevention program by using sample programs on the Department of Labor & Industries web site. An accident prevention program (APP) is required by law for all businesses and organizations with employees or volunteers, and just makes sense for protecting your people and reducing risk to your firm’s bottom line.

Start with a basic overview of safety requirements in easy-to-understand language at: Next, select a template that applies to your business and start to build your plan. You can find templates and sample accident prevention programs at

Have questions or need help? E-mail L&I at, or call the WISHA Outreach Program at 360-902-6307.

Featured L&I web page

Keep an eye on L&I regulations

When L&I plans to develop a new regulation, or “rule,” it publishes a proposal in several places, including the L&I web site. Workplace health and safety (WISHA), wage and hour, and workers’ compensation all publish their proposed rules here:

Don’t want to be checking L&I rules all of the time? Have rule updates sent to your e-mail each month by signing up for L&I’s rules e-mail service. To subscribe, go to:


Focus On: Reducing workers' compensation claim costs

“You Never Bring Me Flowers Anymore” – A little TLC can save you money

A 1997 study by medical management company Intracorp and The Gallop Organization revealed that injured workers who have the workers' comp process explained to them, and whose employers are actively involved in helping and encouraging the worker to recover, are more satisfied with their employers and the process.

According to the study, "prior communication and post-injury demonstrations of concern and caring drove higher levels of injured worker satisfaction, reduced time lost from work, and reduced attorney involvement – all factors that contribute to lower program costs.”

The report also notes that 95 percent of workers whose employers suggested a doctor or clinic to treat their injury took their employers’ advice, but only 19 percent of workers in the study received a recommended medical provider from their employers.

The report closes with suggestions for how to improve the connection between an employer and injured worker.

Read the full report at no charge at: Injured Worker Study.pdf.


Small Business Contact at L&I:

Ron Langley
Small Business Liaison
Phone: 360-902-4205
Pager: 360-455-2583
Fax: 360-902-5420

Want to subscribe to L&I News for Small Business? Contact Ron via the contact information listed above.

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