News for Small Business - April 2011

News for Small Business - News for L&I small business 

customers and tips for saving time and moneyI

April 2011 | L&I's Small Business Liaison, Celia Nightingale and Aaron Hoffman Call: 1-800-987-0145. Fax: 360-902-5420. E-mail:

Change to workers' comp saves money

Washington State Legislative Building

Legislation recently signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire will reduce workers' comp costs by an estimated $218 million over four years by setting standards for medical providers who treat injured workers and, at the same time, improving injured workers' access to the highest quality medical care.

Under Senate Bill 5801, L&I and an advisory group of business, labor, and medical providers will establish a statewide medical provider network for injured workers covered both by the State Fund and self-insured employers. The providers will need to meet typical health insurance standards and will have access to financial and other incentives when they use occupational health "best practices" to prevent disability, reduce loss of family income, and lower insurance costs for employers. Injured workers will be able to choose their doctor from those included in the statewide network.

Another piece of the bill expands the state's Centers for Occupational Health Education (COHE), which have a proven record of reducing lost-work time, lowering average claim costs, and producing better outcomes for injured workers. Four centers currently handle about one-fourth of all state fund workers' comp claims. The bill requires that half of injured workers have access to a COHE provider by 2013, and that all workers have access by 2015. COHEs, which currently focus on best practices early in a claim, will develop additional approaches for the entire period of an injured worker's medical treatment.

Read the Governor's news release.

Workplace fatalities up 26% in 2010; more common at small businesses

L&I claims data shows that 86 Washington workers died on the job in 2010, a 26-percent increase over 2009, which saw 65 workplace fatalities in our state.

Some examples of workplace fatalities in 2010:

  • The operator of a mini excavator in Benton County was struck and killed by a front end loader.
  • A dairy worker in Whatcom County was struck and killed by an overhead door that suddenly came down.
  • A worker at a machine shop in King County was struck by a steel shaft being worked on in a lathe.

Past research has shown that firms with fewer than 20 workers employ 25 percent of the workforce in Washington, yet have 60 percent of traumatic injury fatalities (i.e. workplace injuries that don't involve a long-term occupational disease). By comparison – firms with 20-100 workers employ 28 percent of the workforce in Washington, yet have only 18.5 percent of traumatic injury fatalities.

Among all Washington employers, the top three traumatic incident fatalities in 2010 were, by percentage:

  • Machine 22 percent
  • Motor vehicle incidents 18 percent
  • Struck by falling object 9 percent

For more information please see Washington FACE 2010 Work-Related Fatalities Report.

A great place to start beefing up your safety and health program is L&I's "Safety & Health Basics for Small Businesses" web page.

Having an effective workplace safety program can potentially save money on workers' comp premiums. For free and confidential assistance with preventing workplace injuries and illnesses, visit or call the L&I office nearest you.

Fallen workers remembered

L&I will honor the memory of the workers who died from job-related injuries or illnesses with its annual Worker Memorial Day ceremony April 28. The event, at L&I headquarters in Tumwater, is Washington's official commemoration and is one of many held in communities across the nation. L&I has hosted this ceremony for the past 18 years to recognize fallen workers, their families and friends.


Updated website makes filing Prevailing Wage paperwork easier

L&I used customer suggestions to make its Prevailing Wage Intent & Affidavit (PWIA) online filing system more user-friendly.

Some of the new features now:

  • Prominently display the Intent and Affidavit form options on the Home screen
  • Show the status of a business' Intent and Affidavit forms
  • Allow users to review forms before submitting them
  • Let users track by project all contractors who have filed forms
  • Provide a "Wizard" based system to walk users through each step of the process with help links throughout.

To take an interactive tour, use this link to the new Intents & Affidavits online filing system.

Protect some backs, protect some bucks with free safety training

Two free L&I workshops can save you big money by protecting your employees from costly workplace injuries.

Preventing Back Injuries: One back injury can take an employee off duty, affect staffing and send workers' comp premiums climbing. Back injuries are the most common type of injury claim. This workshop covers the main causes of back injuries at work and how to identify and prevent them. You'll learn about risks from lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling tasks, as well as slips, trips and falls.

Developing Effective Safety Committees: A vital safety committee can help you find and fix hazards before injuries occur. This workshop will help you make the time you spend with a safety committee pay off with fewer injuries and better control of your claim costs.

Safety committees are required in businesses where 11 or more employees work on the same shift at the same location (WAC 296-800-13020).

Both workshops are offered in a number of cities throughout 2011. For more information, go to the links below or call 1-800-574-2829.

Prevent Back Injuries ilable/PreventingBackInjuries/

Developing Effective Safety Committees /SafetyCommittees/

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