The WSIA Weekly returns from a two week hiatus. We have a number of updates to share!
New WSIA program year begins; membership renewals out
We closed the books on a very successful 2014-15 year on June 30th, and our 2015-16 program year began July 1. Here’s a one-page overview of our highlights as an organization in the year just completed. We’re looking forward to some important milestones this program year – the possible relocation of our office in Olympia, the launch of a new and entirely updated website, and the re-launch of our Washington Workers’ Compensation Professional (WWCP) certification, among other things. It’s also the time of year where we send out membership renewals to all of our members. Our members are the lifeblood of the association, and we value and seek engagement with each and every one of you through our committees, programs, conferences, and other services. If there’s something we can do to help your company succeed, don’t hesitate to contact us. We thank you for your support and continued membership in the organization.
Liaison Committee meets with L&I; new report available
Our Liaison Committee held its bimonthly meeting with L&I’s Self-Insurance management on July 2nd. The Liaison Committee provides assistance in resolving claim management issues, policy or procedure concerns or specific individual claim related issues, as well as general updates on the operations and initiatives of the Self-Insurance section. The July meeting report, along with some notable attachments from the Department on work-order performance measures and audit reform, is available at this link.
Walter Reed Army Medical Center hand surgeon presents our next webinar on July 23
Upper extremity injuries are common, expensive, and major sources of partial disability awards. Dr. Matthew Drake, Johns Hopkins-educated hand surgeon at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, joins us on the afternoon of July 23rd, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., discuss diagnosis, treatment authorization, and claims management considerations for hand and arm injuries. This is a great opportunity to interact with a nationally recognized expert in his specialty. The webinar is approved for 1.5 WWCP and CRC credits; CEU and CDMS credits are pending. Click here for more information and registration info.
COLA amount released
On July 1, a new Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for workers’ compensation indemnity benefits went into place, increasing levels by 4.2 percent. The Department has released new benefit tables, as well as a new 10-decimal adjustment factor the State Fund intends to use. However, the Department has made it clear Self-Insured employers are allowed to continue to use a 5-decimal factor for COLA adjustments. The announcement, and internal links to the benefit tables and other important information, are available at this link. The COLA announcement was made on June 30th, based on calculations made by the Employment Security Department on June 24th. We’ve expressed disappointment with the extremely short lead time given to employers in this announcement, and will be seeking improvements to this timeframe with the Department for the future.
Comments on Department’s DSM-5 rule due Monday!
The Department of Labor & Industries has previously proposed formal rulemaking to update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 5 for use in considering mental impairments or disorders. The rulemaking also includes language delimiting stress claims resulting from exposure to traumatic events, and claims based on mental conditions or disabilities that specify pain primarily as a psychiatric condition. Take a look at the proposed language here and, if you have any comments to make on the rules, make them by Monday, July 13th in writing to Jami.Lifka@lni.wa.gov or in person at the public hearing to be held at 1:00 p.m. Monday at L&I HQ in Tumwater. In particular, I would draw your attention to new material on page 1 discussing coverage of “extreme exposure” to single traumatic events.
Second quarter audit reform numbers coming in
We’ve now completed a second quarter of experience under the Department’s new Tier 1 Audit Reform model. A two-page briefing paper providing statistics comparing Q1 and Q2 is available at this link, however no final audit reports have been issued yet on the second quarter. Once the results become more solid, we’ll be reaching out with additional programming to update members, as we did with the Quarter 1 results.
WCAC meeting materials available
The state’s Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee held its most recent quarterly meeting on June 23, 2015 in Tumwater. The body took updates from the Department on legislative and operating budget issues, a financial report on the health of the State Fund, a review of the State Fund’s performance metrics dashboard for operational goals, a presentation on the Department’s new “Ask L&I” searchable knowledge database, and fraud detection and enforcement initiatives. WSIA and self-insurers generally are represented on the WCAC by Sheri Sundstrom of Hoffman Construction. The full meeting materials can be accessed at this link.
Registration closes soon on Department’s summer training
As the Department has noted in its July newsletter, registration for the first of its two (non-mandatory) summer CEU opportunities, “Update 2015,” closes July 20th for the July 29th sitting. A second program is taking place August 10th. If you’re interested, see this link to the newsletter for course and registration information.
New incident reporting rules went into effect July 1
As a reminder, new incident reporting rules went into effect July 1. Under some previous updates to the WISHA safety and health rules, now death or in-patient hospitalization of any employee must be reported within eight hours of the incident, whereas amputation or loss of any eye of any employee must be reported within twenty-four hours of the incident, unless it results in an in-patient hospitalization, which would then follow the eight hour rule. Information on where to report, along with additional requirements to facilitate reporting, are available at this link on L&I’s website.
WSIA Safety Committee hosting equipment demonstration next week
Our Safety Committee, in partnership with the Valin Corporation, is hosting an on-site demonstration of various pneumatic assistive lift devices next Thursday, July 16th in Kent from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The company is hosting a complimentary BBQ lunch during the demonstration. A head-count is needed and the opportunity is limited to the first 20 members, so please e-mail Safety Committee chair John Shervey for precise event information and to express your interest in attending.