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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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New video raises awareness of ladder hazards


July 16, 2014
By Elaine Fischer

Every year, many workers in Washington State are seriously injured from falling off ladders at work. These injuries include dislocated limbs, broken bones, and head injuries. Sadly, in some cases, workers die from their injuries or are permanently disabled.

That’s why L&I produced this 30-second video and other video shorts focused on falls as part of its “Eye on Safety” campaign. You might see this ladder safety video in a YouTube or Hulu ad this summer.

You can also find more video shorts at EyeOnSafety.info. These short entertaining videos were developed to raise awareness about fall hazards in a variety of workplaces.


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How do you survive an elevator accident?


August 6, 2014
By Matthew Erlich

The math indicates you’re unlikely to survive a fall in an elevator. This serious video from Slate magazine talks about how a person might survive, however “Mythbusters” busted the idea in its “Elevator of Death” episode from 2004.

At L&I, we inspect more than 16,000 elevators and escalators across the state. A handy search tool can show you the inspection history for the conveyance in your building – except for Seattle and Spokane who have their own jurisdictions.

Best advice: Lie flat on the floor if you can, but in a hydraulic elevator fall, even in a 20-story building, you may only have barely 3 seconds to react.


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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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Meet L&I at the fair - and fall home shows


September 18, 2014
By Debby Abe


Meet outreach specialists Rebecca Llewellyn (left) and Julie Perales at L&I’s booth at the fair and home shows.

Sometimes there’s no better way to get help than talking face to face.

You’ll get the chance to do just that over the next few weeks.  L&I outreach specialists will be at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup Thursday, Sept. 18, through Saturday, Sept. 20, and at home shows around the state from late September through mid-October to answer your questions about hiring construction contractors. Here’s the list of their fall appearances.

If you’re thinking of tackling a home remodeling project, visit the L&I booth to:

  • Get a free “Hire Smart” worksheet to help you plan your project.
  • Learn how to verify a contractor’s license by using www.Verify.Lni.wa.gov.
  • Find out what a “notice to customer disclosure statement” is. Hint: State law requires contractors to give you one before starting projects worth more than $1,000.

If you can’t make it to the fair or home show, visit www.ProtectMyHome.net for tips about hiring contractors.  And if you don’t have access to the Internet, check to see if a contractor is registered by calling L&I at 1-800-647-0982.

Take advantage of this free advice. It could save you thousands of dollars, countless headaches and a botched remodeling job.


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Recipe for fraud: Busing dishes, prepping food while claiming arms are too weak to work


September 24, 2014
By Debby Abe

Check out this undercover video clip of a Spokane Valley woman who was caught in a workers’ comp scam.

An L&I investigator videotaped the woman, Wanitta Racicot, in August 2011 performing a variety of tasks to operate the Spokane restaurant she co-owned at the time. Footage shows her prepping food, busing dishes, scrubbing floors, carrying groceries, driving and doing other activities. The same month, Racicot told an L&I investigator that her hands were so disabled from an earlier work injury that she couldn’t even button her shirts or put on earrings.

Last week, Racicot pleaded guilty to first-degree theft, and was sentenced to 60 days confinement, converted to electronic home monitoring. The court also ordered Racicot to repay the state $125,000. Read more about it here.

There’s no free tab for workers’ comp fraud.


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