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The inside story

Parents of fallen worker seek out claims manager who helped


May 8, 2014

By Dave Wasser

Adam Normoyle remembered the claim.

“It came in looking like a simple concussion,” he said, “the kind of claim that was usually handled within a short time.”

The claimant, 36 year old Bradley Bean of Renton, had slipped in the snow and received a head injury while working as a jet center manager.

Adam, who at the time was a claims manager in Unit A, handled the claim from the beginning.

A simple case becomes worse

Sadly, this seemingly minor injury kept getting worse. Complications developed, and six months after the accident, Bradley Bean was dead. His parents, Tom and Debra Bean were devastated.

A little over a year after his injury occurred, Tom and Debra were invited to the L&I Worker Memorial. They agreed to attend and indicated they would like to meet Adam at the event.

Adam attended the Memorial and met Tom and Debra. They asked him to sit with them during the ceremonies. A photograph of the three of them was included in several newspaper stories about the event – Tom holding a photograph of their son and Debra carrying a small urn that held his ashes.

A real connection

“They felt that I had really helped them through the process,” Adam said. “Because everything had gone smoothly during the claim, they felt that I had helped make things less stressful for them.”

Adam said the Beans sent him a photo of their son early on during the claims process. They shared more photos with him after the Memorial.

“We made a real connection,” he said. “Bradley was about my age. He was their only son and I have just one child. I think I have some understanding of how devastating it would be to lose your only child.”

Memorial brings it home

Often times a workers’ comp claim can be just a voice on the phone. Adam said the Memorial was always a time for him to “recharge” and remember that claims are about real people who are members of real families.

Adam left L&I late last year to join Strategic Consulting where he is now a vocational counselor, a job he felt would give him more direct client contact. He is enjoying his new job but says he misses friends from L&I.

“It was good to have a reason to return,” he said. “It’s always nice to hear the appreciation. I’m glad I went.”

See Olympian photo gallery of Worker Memorial event. Photo is second one in the gallery.


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Join the Safety Stand-Down and focus on fall hazards the week of June 2-6


June 4, 2014
By Elaine Fischer

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Falls account for the highest number of deaths among construction workers nationally and more than half of all worker hospitalizations across all industries in Washington state.

That’s why L&I and OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration) are encouraging all employers to join the “Safety Stand-Down” the week of June 2-6.

What is a Safety Stand-Down, you ask?

It’s a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about fall hazards and how to prevent falls.

A Safety Stand-Down could be as simple showing one of L&I’s entertaining one-minute “Eye on Safety” YouTube videos to start the conversation.

You could use a smart phone or a tablet to watch the videos and then have a safety conversation right there on the spot.

The new videos, available at www.EyeOnSafety.info, feature different kinds of falls in a variety of workplaces including a construction site, a restaurant, a retail shop and an office.

L&I offers many other training resources for fall prevention at www.Lni.wa.gov/safety/.

Additionally, OSHA has a special Safety Stand-Down resources for preventing falls in construction.

We hope you will join us in this state and national effort to raise awareness of fall hazards.


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Everything you want to know about your L&I account


June 5, 2014
By Chris Alcatraz

Intrigued? Glad to hear it!

This is the title of just one of the many classes offered at FREE Contractor Training Days scheduled monthly at locations across the state.

Informative? You bet!

Over 25 topics: from starting a business to managing contracts; plumbing code to fall protection.

Useful? Absolutely!

Lots of reference material and in-person Q&A with staff from L&I and the Department of Revenue, volunteers from the legal community and more.

When & where? Next event in Lakewood on June 27.

If you can’t join us in June, we’d love to see you at future events in Yakima, Edmonds, Spokane and Renton. See the complete schedule.

Can’t wait? There’s more!

Check out our website for all the resources we offer business owners: http://www.Lni.wa.gov/main/ForBusiness.asp


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Gitty-up on over to the Eastern Washington forklift rodeo


June 10, 2014
By Elaine Fischer

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If you’re a professional forklift driver who would like to demonstrate your skills and compete for cash prizes, you’re invited to take part in one of the upcoming forklift rodeos:

  • An Eastern Washington regional qualifying competition will be held June 21 at the Spokane Fire Department Regional Readiness Center at 1618 N. Rebecca St.
  • A Western Washington forklift competition will be held August 23 at the Boeing Kent Space Center, 20403 68th Ave. S.

The top 5 individual qualifiers from each of these regional competitions will then proceed to the 17th Annual Forklift Rodeo at the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference held this year in Spokane on September 24.

We also encourage employers to sponsor in-house competitions.

The forklift rodeos have typically drawn the best forklift drivers from around the state.

Competitors must first successfully pass a written exam and be current on training requirements.

In the driving competition, the forklift drivers are timed as they negotiate a fun and challenging course that includes various tasks and hazards. For example, some courses have a basketball shot or an egg in a cone.

There’s prize money to be had! The top 8 drivers in these regional competitions earn cash prizes ranging from $50 to $300. In the finals, prizes range from $100 to $500 for the top 5 drivers.

Team awards are given for the top 2 teams at each region. A team is comprised of the top 3 scores of all entered at the region.

Sign up today! Participation is limited to the first 30 drivers who register. Visit www.wagovconf.org for registration forms or call 206-281-3842 or 1-888‑451-2004. The entry fee is $40 for competitors.

Spectators are welcome and there is no admission charge.


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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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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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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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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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I meant to do that!


August 14, 2014
By Elaine Fischer

It can happen in an instant in any workplace or occupation. You’re walking along just thinking about things you need to do or places to be (or worse, looking at your phone) and suddenly you slip, trip or fall.

If you’re lucky, you get up, brush off and go on your way.

Or you might pull a Pee Wee Herman — get up, look around and say, “I meant to do that!”

If you’re not so lucky, you might suffer a sprain or strain, broken bones, a head injury or other serious injury.

We know you wouldn’t mean to do that, but it happens all the time. Slips, trips and falls are the leading cause of serious injuries and worker hospitalizations in Washington State. And sadly, a number of workers die each year from a fall or complications of their injuries. Others are left permanently disabled.

That’s why L&I started the Eye on Safety video campaign – to raise awareness of slips, trips and falls.

At EyeOnSafety.info, you’ll find 1-minute video shorts that raise awareness about everyday safety hazards. These and many other online videos are great for safety meetings, tool-box talks or safety training in any workplace.

They’re free and available 24/7. Check out this great resource soon. New videos are added regularly, so visit often.

And now that we brought it up, you’re probably thinking about that famous Pee Wee Herman scene, so here it is: I meant to do that!


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Logger Safety Initiative hits 100!


August 18, 2014
By Christopher Bowe

Less than a year after its launch, the Logger Safety Initiative (LSI) has enrolled 103 logging employers and 9 forestry landowners! By joining LSI, logging employers and landowners are committing to taking the lead in ensuring worker health and safety is the #1 priority, and assuring accountability for safety on the worksite.

As you’re probably aware, logging is a hazardous industry. The injury rate and the severity of those injuries in non-mechanized (manual) logging are high. As a result, the base rate premiums in the manual logging risk class exceed $20 per worker hour. In 2013, the logging industry, along with concerned landowners and the Department of Natural Resources, partnered with L&I in the search of some reasonable ways to assist employers with safety and health issues out in the woods. Out of this collaborative effort came the LSI program.

LSI is a collaborative effort that provides voluntary improvements to worker protection and safety.

Logging companies that enroll in LSI commit to creating a safe and healthy workplace through rigorous training, education, and implementation of an accident prevention program that contains the LSI certification requirements for safe work practices.

Firms that sign up enter into a tiered discount on workers’ compensation premium rates, which allows them to invest into their safety and health program. Logging firms must pass an independent third-party safety audit verification of the LSI Logger Safety Program in order to become LSI certified.

While the focus is on the manual or hand-cutting side of operations, the overarching goal is to create a culture of “safety first” for all logging industry employers and workers.

For more information about the program, please visit: www.loggersafety.org


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