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The WSIA Weekly, 11.6.15

Registration now open for December SI Colloquium
The next Self-Insurance Colloquium on Best Practices in Workers’ Compensation Healthcare, jointly sponsored by WSIA and the Department of Labor & Industries on December 3, 2015 at Safeco Field, is now accepting registrations. All of the information you need to register is on the invite, available at this link. The cost to attend the daylong gathering is $39, which can be paid in advance by check or credit card, by mail or fax, to WSIA, along with your registration. Registrations are due November 30th. Please direct any questions about the event to WSIA’s Patrick Koenig or the Department’s Jim Kammerer.     

Department files for new rulemaking related to pension discount rate
The Department of Labor & Industries on Tuesday announced its intention to undertake new rulemaking related to the pension discount rate, the interest rate used to express the present value of the Department’s expected future payments for pensions. The rate is currently at 6.4 percent; the Department seeks to reduce the discount rate to as low as 4.5 percent by 2022. The Department is working through the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee to determine the appropriate rate for 2016 as part of that plan. WSIA is closely monitoring and participating in these discussions, as any reduction in the discount rate increases the size of the Department’s calculated liability for each reserved pension. For self-insured pensions, the difference has to be made up in the present year, resulting in a potential cash impact on the self-insured employer.

 OSHA penalties may be on the rise; L&I to follow?
According to the Wall Street Journal and other outlets, a little-noticed provision of the federal budget bill signed into law this week by President Obama requires the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to increase its penalty structure by as much as 80 percent, in order to align with inflation since 1990. This may increase the maximum fines for serious violations from $7,000 to $12,500, for example, and from $70,000 to $125,000 for repeat and willful violations. OSHA will need to undertake rulemaking to implement the new penalty amounts, which is expected to be completed by mid-2016. Labor & Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), meanwhile, just completed its own rulemaking to align with OSHA’s prior penalty structure. While there has been no official word, new DOSH rulemaking on safety penalties can be reasonably anticipated next year as well.   

WSIA Safety Committee to meet online next Tuesday
WSIA’s Safety Committee, chaired by board member John Shervey, is holding its next monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 10th at 2:00 p.m. The committee is trying a new format using the first 15 minutes of the meeting to review in depth a specific safety topic before moving into committee business. This month’s meeting will discuss the Job Safety/Hazard Analysis, a significant component of a company’s Accident Prevention Program. These online meetings are open to all WSIA members, but require preregistration at this link, after which each participant will receive a unique login for the meeting. For more information about this meeting or the work of the committee in general, please feel free to e-mail either John Shervey or WSIA’s Patrick Koenig. As always, please feel free to forward information about this meeting to colleagues in your organization who may be interested, but may not receive our notices.         

Department awards 11/19 medical causation webinar 1.5 claims management credits  
This week the Department of Labor & Industries awarded 1.5 claims management CEU to our November 19th webinar on medical causation issues, featuring Dr. Stephen Fuller of impartial. The webinar, entitled “The KEY Link: Understanding the Complicated Relationship between Work and Medical Diagnosis,” runs from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., and will include time for your questions. This will be an informative presentation for claims handlers dealing with difficult causation, aggravation, injury vs. occupational disease, and IME issues and a great opportunity to get scarce claims management CEU. More details and registration at this link.

WSIA Weekly to return Nov. 20th
Our communications department (me) will be out of the office at a conference next Friday; the WSIA Weekly is slated to return with news and updates on November 20th.