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Safety and health grant $$$ used to showcase construction safety “best practices”


July 2, 2014
By Elaine Fischer

Maybe you’ve heard that L&I has grant money available to fund innovative ideas. It’s true!

If you’d like to know more about what a grant project looks like, check out this great article from Central Washington University (CWU) about a grant project currently underway at CWU’s Safety and Health Management program.

CWU formed a partnership with Associated General Contractors of Washington and were awarded a $113,000 SHIP grant. They are now working to identify best practices in the construction industry and create a comprehensive construction safety handbook that showcases the industry best practices and the companies who are safety leaders.

This handbook will be a great new resource for construction companies in our state! When completed, it will be freely available online and updated regularly.

Do you have a great idea for a safety and health or return-to-work project? If so, there is grant money available and we’d like to hear from you!

We can help you determine if you are eligible, if your project qualifies, or just discuss your ideas with you. Call the SHIP program staff at 360-902-5588 or send an email to Invest@Lni.wa.gov.

You can also learn more about the grants at www.SafetyGrants.Lni.wa.gov.


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5 tips for filing your quarterly report successfully


July 7, 2014
By Andrea Ruiz and Roseann Collins

It’s that time again. Quarterly Report filing and premiums for the 2nd quarter (April 1, 2014 – June 30, 2014) are due on July 31, 2014.

Remember, even if you don’t have any worker hours or payroll, you still have to file a report.

What’s the easiest way to file your quarterly report?
Online! To file online, go to www.QuarterlyReports.Lni.wa.gov.

  • You can file on-the-go from any mobile device. Try it at www.QuickFile.Lni.wa.gov.
  • You can file your quarterly report in 3 minutes or less.
  • We calculate the rates for you.
  • You can print a confirmation page for your records.

New to online filing?
Here are some tips to help you file successfully:

  1. Watch a tutorial and see step by step how easy it is to file online. image
  2. Don’t wait until the deadline — file early. If you have any issues or questions, you won’t be pressured by time constraints.
  3. Look up your Account ID or UBI number.
  4. Choose the payment option that works best for you. You can schedule your payment (up until 7/31), mail in a check, or pay with a credit card.
  5. Don’t forget to hit the submit button, and then print a copy of your report for your records.


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Don’t let this happen to you and your home renovation project


July 8, 2014
By Debby Abe

We can never say it enough: If you’re getting work done on your home, make sure your construction contractor is registered with the state.

A King County case shows what can happen if you don’t. According to criminal charges filed this week in King County Superior Court, a Seattle contractor gave two property owners estimates for jobs, one to repair a sewer pipe, another to install flooring. The same day, he accepted their checks as down payments and cashed them. That was the last the owners saw of the contractor, charging papers say.

He’s also charged with starting other jobs, then walking away without finishing them, all while being an unregistered contractor. (Read more about the case here.)

Working or offering to work as a contractor without being registered is a crime, a gross misdemeanor to be exact. It carries a penalty of up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Though hiring a registered contractor doesn’t guarantee you won’t have problems, it allows for some financial recourse if the project goes awry. Registered contractors must show L&I they have a bond, liability insurance and meet other requirements.

It’s easy to check if a contractor is registered with L&I. Go to Verify.Lni.wa.gov or call 1-888-811-5974.


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When should injured workers return to work?


July 10, 2014
By Mary Kaempfe

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Short answer: As soon as they possibly can.

Did you know that over half of all injured workers miss less than 1 month of work? We often forget that 3 months after an injury, 80% of injured workers are back at work.

What about the remaining 20% of injured workers? These are the claims that drive more than 80% of system costs. These workers need more medical appointments and more coordination of care by the provider, and their absence is keenly felt by the employer and their coworkers. The longer these workers are off work, the more challenging it is to get them back on the job. If they’re off work for 6 months, the likelihood of ever going to back to work is slim.

The key to avoiding this situation is to get these workers back on the job, engaged with their employer and coworkers, more quickly. Health care providers are often asked to identify job restrictions. Employers are asked to accommodate these restrictions for light duty.

What if we turned this around and thought instead of capabilities?

Example: A provider limits someone with an arm injury to 10 pounds lifting.

This would mean the patient can’t lift a typical bag of groceries, a child older than an infant, a case of beer, or some women’s purses. Is this really the intention?

We forget to consider the person’s capabilities. These capabilities, including use of the uninjured arm and what can still be done with the injured one, allow the worker to complete all the above tasks and much, much more. An employer can probably make accommodations with this information.

We offer resources to help a worker return to work safely and as soon as possible:

  • For claims covered by self-insured employers or L&I (State Fund):
    Your claim manager can identify resources for specific cases.
  • For L&I claims:
    • Stay at Work (SAW) benefits: Financial incentive for employers to bring injured workers back to light duty or transitional work.
    • Early Return-to-Work program: Available in all parts of the state to work with employers, doctors and injured workers to facilitate return to work with the employer of record.  Contact your claim manager or local L&I office to take advantage of this FREE service.


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Message for young workers: A workplace injury can change your life forever


July 14, 2014
By Xenofon Moniodis

The recent tragic death of a 19-year-old worker, is an important reminder that young workers aged 16-24 are at much higher risk for injuries on the job than older workers.

L&I’s Injured Young Worker Speakers Program focuses on raising workplace safety awareness among young workers to help them avoid these types of injuries. The program brings speakers who were severely injured on the job as young workers to high schools and worksites around the state with the message that a workplace accident can change your life forever.

Speaker Matt Pomerinke of Longview, Washington, was just 21 and working at a paper mill when his arm was caught in an unguarded conveyer drive chain and ultimately amputated just below the elbow. Here’s a glimpse of Matt’s compelling story (includes graphic details).


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Too hot to handle


July 21, 2014
By Kyra Ingraham

As summer skips along, and the mercury creeps up, heat stroke and other heat related illnesses can become a major concern — but is it a claim?

The quick answer is yes. If a worker encounters heat that causes an injury, for example an extreme sunburn, heat stroke or heat prostration that requires medical intervention, it is considered an on the job injury and is an allowable claim.

The exposure is generally a one-time, specific incident or occurs over the course of one day. An example would be a roofer who is spreading hot tar on a 90-degree day and is diagnosed with sunstroke.

Again though, that’s the short answer. The longer answer is that, like many L&I claims, it’s taken on a case-by-case basis. The general rule of thumb is that if it’s a situation where the heat exceeds something the general public has to deal with, and the worker suffers an actual heat-related illness, then it’s a claim. For example, if an inside office worker feels overheated but no one else in the office is suffering, that isn’t likely an L&I claim. However, if we go back to our friendly roofer working outside in the sun who overheats and is on the verge of collapsing — that is likely a claim.

Stopping heat stress before it happens
So now that we know is a claim and what isn’t, let’s look at the symptoms and how to stop heat stroke in its tracks! Here’s what to look for:

Training
Washington State has an outdoor heat exposure rule that applies to all employers with employees working outdoors. According to state law, all employers are required to provide training regarding outdoor heat exposure from May through September for employees that will be working in a hot environment.

If your employer isn’t providing this training, bring the issue up, with your supervisor, other employees or Human Resources. Be proactive! If that doesn’t work you can report the issue online or call your local L& I office or 1-800-423-7233.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Exhaustion/weakness
  • Fainting/light-headedness
  • Paleness
  • Headache
  • Clumsiness/dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Irritability

Symptoms of heat stroke:

  • Sweating may or may not be present
  • Red or flushed, hot, dry skin
  • Confusion/bizarre behavior
  • Convulsions before or during cooling
  • Collapse
  • Any symptom of heat exhaustion, but more severe
  • Panting/rapid breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse

Note: Heat stroke may resemble a heart attack.

First aid tips for heat exhaustion:

  • Move the victim to a cool shaded area to rest; do not leave him or her alone.
  • Loosen and remove heavy clothing that restricts evaporative cooling.
  • Give cool water to drink, about a cup every 15 minutes.
  • Fan the person, spray with cool water, or apply a wet cloth to his or her skin to increase evaporative cooling.
  • Recovery should be rapid. Call 911 if he or she does not feel better in a few minutes.
  • Do not further expose the person to heat that day. Have them rest and continue to drink cool water or electrolyte drinks

First aid tips for heat stroke (this is a medical emergency):

  • Get medical help immediately, call 911 and transport as soon as possible.
  • Move the victim to a cool shaded area and remove clothing that restricts evaporative cooling.
  • Seconds count! Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods you can and continue cooling until medical help arrives. Examples of cooling methods:
    • Immerse the victim in a tub of cool water.
    • Place the person in a cool shower.
    • Spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose.
    • Sponge the person with cool water.
    • If the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instruction.
  • Do not give the victim water to drink until instructed by medical personnel.

Solutions for other heat-related illnesses
The heat can cause more problems than heat stroke and heat exhaustion, which are the 2 most dangerous heat-related illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control, other heat-related illnesses include cramping and fainting from the heat or developing a heat rash. In these cases, the CDC recommends:

  • Getting out of the sun.
  • Sitting in a cool place.
  • Drinking water, clear juice or a sports beverage.

For more of the CDC’s tips on preventing heat related illnesses go here http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress


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What do a Spokane motel, nightclub, and apartment have in common?


July 25, 2014
By Debby Abe

Spokane-area readers might be familiar with the Lascelle Motel, the now-defunct Sunset Junction nightclub, or the brick apartment building at 1010 W. Boone Ave.

A few years back, there were news stories about efforts to revive the Sunset Junction and the brick apartment building.

Now the businesses are the setting for an L&I-investigated criminal case that’s just been filed in Spokane County Superior Court. Read about it here.


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Behind the story of electricians and their rabbits


August 27, 2014
By Matthew Erlich

Did you hear Tacoma resident Haley Masbruch on National Public Radio talking about how rabbits disappear?

She’s not a magician — she’s in the Southwest Washington Electrical apprenticeship program. She was explaining that “rabbits” refer to leftover copper wire and how quickly that copper can disappear if not secured.The interview was part of the “trade lingo” segment where NPR features different professions with their insider terminology.

You can read or listen to the story here, but what’s behind the story is even better.

Haley has some high school education and is in her second year as an Inside Wireman apprenticeship, making about $30 an hour (70% of a Journey-level wage). That’s the same pay scale as someone with a 4-year engineering degree in a starter job!

There is a lot of opportunity in apprenticeships. You can learn more about becoming an apprentice at our website.

As for Haley, she told NPR she enjoys being an electrician because she likes to do physical work that engages her mind. Being an electrician does both, she said.


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Medical providers – Got something you want to tell us?


September 2, 2014
By Mary Kaempfe

Many of you will soon get that chance! It’s time for L&I’s 4th biennial survey of medical providers. About 1,000 of you will be contacted about your satisfaction in treating injured workers and working with L&I.

Our survey partner this year is Data Recognition Corporation (DRC), a private survey firm. From September through October, they will conduct a phone and online survey of doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who treat injured workers in Washington. Watch for your letter with the survey link and access PIN. If the survey firm contacts you, please respond. Your identity won’t be known to L&I staff unless you give the OK.

We want to know what we’re doing well and what we need to do to make it easier for you to treat injured workers. The survey will ask about your:

  • Satisfaction treating injured workers and working with L&I.
  • Awareness of L&I tools and resources designed for providers, as well as their usefulness.
  • Suggestions for making L&I a better business partner.

Past survey results have been used to:

  • Help change a law so we could meet your need for less L&I paper mail.
  • Support the development of e-Correspondence, a quick and efficient way to receive, route, and process claims-related mail from L&I online.
  • Dedicate staff to help providers understand claims and billing processes.
  • Train L&I staff on the realities of the provider’s work environment and where L&I fits in.

We will publish the survey results early next year.

In addition to the survey, provider comments and suggestions are always welcome at ProviderFeedback@Lni.wa.gov. (Please don’t send information about specific injured workers via email.)


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Don’t do this at work!


September 8, 2014
By Aaron Hoffman and Elaine Fischer

Do you get the feeling these guys are looking down on the rest of us?

An L&I inspector took these pictures while out in the field.

Lack of fall protection was the fourth most common workplace safety violation cited by the Division of Occupational Safety and Health in 2013. Cutting corners while exposed to falls is a deadly combination that can lead to serious tragedy.

If you need help with workplace safety and health issues, or if you just have questions, contact L&I’s Consultation Services for help. You can get free and confidential help from safety and health experts! 


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