NewNewsletterHeader The WSIA Weekly, 9.2.16

Independent report released on structured settlements program

When the Claim Resolution Structured Settlement Agreements (CRSSA) program was created by the Legislature in 2011 as a tool for settling workers’ comp claims, a component of the Legislation called for an independent third-party review of the utilization and operation of the program after four years, including follow-up with injured workers who took CRSSAs to examine their outcomes. Dated July 5th and authored by the Upjohn Institute, that review was recently made public by the Department of Labor & Industries. It demonstrates that on the whole, the program has been underutilized, has unnecessary administrative and procedural complexity to it, but has generally been successful for those workers who have used it. On the basis of this report and continued concerns about restrictions on CRSSAs, the issue promises to be once again before the Legislature in 2017. You can read the full report at this link.

Department of Labor & Industries releases 2017 legislative agenda

Last month, representatives from the Department of Labor & Industries met with members of the employers’ workers’ compensation coalition, including WSIA, to share information about their 2017 legislative agenda. Of specific interest to workers’ comp and safety, the Department has a placeholder for potential legislation arising from the work of the Benefit Accuracy Working Group, a business-labor-Department collaborative currently working on wage simplification concepts. The DOSH program is also proposing a bill to substantially increase WISHA penalty minimum and maximum amounts to align with recent OSHA changes, as well as a bill to extend the statutory time frame during which a penalty assessment might be settled with the Department. WSIA will be discussing our organizational position on L&I’s bills at a legislative committee meeting later this month. You can read a summary of the L&I agenda here, and if you would like the specific language of any of the proposals, drop me a line.

BIIA rule changes under consideration – comments sought

The Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals is considering several new rule changes and has asked for stakeholder feedback on the concepts and proposed language. This is a “pre-stakeholdering” effort insofar as no formal rulemaking has actually been filed. The topics under review are exhibits; perpetuation depositions; motions; appearances; the WISHA appeal notice; communication and filing with the Board; and the petition for review. You can review the summary and text of the rule proposals here. Comments are requested by September 20th, and instructions on commenting are also at the link.

Reminder: Spokane Regional Meeting next Thursday

Eastern Washington members, please don’t forget next Thursday’s Regional Meeting at the ESD 101 Conference Center in Spokane from 9:00 a.m. to Noon, featuring updates and networking with colleagues, as well as two continuing education presentations, one on neuropsychiatric evaluations and one on hearing loss claims. Regional Meetings are free for WSIA members to attend; we only ask that you RSVP your plans in advance. For the details on the Spokane meeting, click here.

Also next Thursday: WSIA Safety Committee to meet

WSIA is holding its regularly scheduled Safety Committee meeting online over the GoToMeeting platform on Thursday, September 8th from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. There will be an introduction to a free Observation / Near-Miss / Accident Reporting app, and a discussion around traps for the unwary in Accident Prevention Programs. Get the link to join the meeting here, and drop any questions or thoughts on OSHA/DOSH changes and safety related topics by e-mail to committee chair John Shervey.  

Also next Thursday: Public hearing on new OSHA 300 needle stick reporting rule

The Department of Labor & Industries has an open rulemaking on changes to the accident reporting standards for needle sticks and sharps. Affecting our health care sector members directly, but also employers across numerous sectors, the rule change would require recording the type and brand of device involved in the injuries resulting from a contaminated needle stick or sharps. There is a public hearing on the rule Thursday September 8th at 1:30 p.m. at L&I headquarters in Tumwater, and written comments can be submitted through 5:00 p.m. on September 15th by e-mail to Tari Enos. You can read the proposed rule language at this link.  

September’s “Health Policy News” for self-insured employers

The Department of Labor & Industries’ Health Policy program has shared with us their short newsletter for the month of September, chronicling recent work of the Health Technology Clinical Committee and Industrial Insurance Medical and Chiropractic Advisory Committees, as well as new/ongoing endeavors in the area of lumbar fusion, paying for office-based portable ultrasound equipment, and Beryllium exposure. Take a look at the newsletter here.

Court of Appeals publishes new covered worker case

Earlier this week, the Washington State Court of Appeals published another decision examining the issue whether individuals working as independent contractors, and in some instances as sole proprietors of their own independent businesses, were actually covered employees for purposes of workers’ compensation premiums and coverage. As has been more frequently occurring in these kinds of cases, the Court’s determination in favor of covered worker status turned heavily on the degree of personal labor required of the individuals and degree of direction and control retained by the employer. Take a look at the court’s decision here.

Don’t forget your Fall Conference registration!

We’re just three weeks away now from WSIA’s Fall Conference on September 23 near SeaTac, and registration has been excellent. Join your colleagues from other companies and industries, as well as our sponsors and exhibitors, for a day of networking and for definitive updates from the regulators on all of the new OSHA and DOSH rules and policies coming down the pipeline, as well as engaging presentations from Starbucks’ safety director, Sedgwick’s national medical director, and a human resources expert on best integrating the millennial generation. All the info you need to register is at this link.  

WSIA closed September 5th; Happy Labor Day

We wish all of you a happy and safe holiday weekend.