This week's top news from Washington's workers' comp + workplace safety leader
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The WSIA Weekly, 3.3.17

Annual Conference now open for registration!
We hope you got the first notice on Wednesday of this week that our 2017 Annual Conference, "Raise Your Game," is now open for registration. We've got another great program lined up for May 10-12 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in the Tri-Cities. We're filling up the exhibitor hall now, getting all our sponsors on board, and taking reservations so check out the conference page here and make plans to get over to the Tri-Cities in May!

State Senate continues to advance reform measure
Senate Bill 5822, the WSIA-backed measure to make a series of reforms to the workers' comp system in Washington, continues to move through the process, having been voted out of the Senate Rules Committee Wednesday night. This action makes the bill eligible for a floor vote. In order to remain in consideration this session, it must pass the Senate by next Wednesday, March 8th, the next major deadline in the legislative session. Along with a number of allied organizations, we continue to work hard to get the bill over the hurdle, but passage is far from guaranteed.  

State House passes occupational disease expansions
While the Senate considers system improving reforms, the state House meanwhile has passed two costly occupational disease measures, about which we've been reporting the last few weeks. HB 1723, which passed the House last night on a 69-29 vote, provides a new and extremely broad presumption of occupational disease for employees of Hanford contractors and subcontractors. Just moments ago Friday afternoon, the House passed HB 1655, which allows stress-related mental conditions as occupational diseases for police and firefighters, by an even more dramatic 84-13 margin. Efforts to bring to light objections to the costs, unfairness, and bad precedents both bills represent were drowned out by emotional debate speeches by proponents about the impacts to the affected workers. Both bills now go to the Senate, where they face a more uncertain future.

>> Latest state legislative update available here (member login req'd).

Self-Insurance rules modernization work group established 
At WSIA's request, a new initiative has recently been launched at the Department of Labor & Industries to collaboratively go through the entire catalog of self-insurance rules and regulations contained in chapter 296-15 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) to discuss which rules may need some updating, repealing, or restructuring. The work group is made up of a labor union and claimants' lawyer representative, leadership from L&I's Insurance Services and Self-Insurance sections, and for WSIA, myself and Lisa Vivian of Eberle Vivian. Here's a description of the charter of the work group. The above link goes to all the rules the group has under consideration. Our ask to the membership: if you have input on any of these rules, please don't hesitate to get in touch with either me or Lisa as this process gets underway.  

March Health Policy News is out
The Department of Labor & Industries' Office of Medical Director has released the latest Health Policy News for Self-Insured Employers, their bi-monthly newsletterette covering their latest projects in coverage decisions and treatment guidelines, as well as other issues coming before their medical and chiropractic advisory committees. This month's edition looks at new guidelines underway on acupuncture coverage and carpal tunnel for computer users. Take a look here.

Safety Committee meets next Thursday
WSIA's Safety Committee holds its next monthly meeting next Thursday, March 9th at 2:00 p.m. online over the GoToMeeting platform, open not only to Safety Committee members but any WSIA member and their safety personnel. This month's meeting will go over the OSHA 300 log reporting and posting with safety folks from Archbright, as well as a discussion on the free SafeMe and WA-HSEQ smartphone apps, both of which have been the subject of recent media attention for their ease of use and potential to help improve on-site safety. Click this link to get the login information to attend the meeting online.

Liaison Committee Report available
WSIA's Liaison Committee met yesterday with Labor & Industries' self-insurance brass, and covered substantial ground, discussing health policy updates, news about structured settlements outcomes and tips, the latest issues in front of the Vocational Dispute Resolution Office (VDRO), the Department's claim performance measures, and more. Grab the minutes from the meeting along with the handouts we were provided at this link
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