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Weekly news and updates from Washington's workers' comp and workplace safety leader
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The WSIA Weekly, 9.23.16

Top News:

Thank you to our members, presenters, sponsors, and exhibitors who turned out for Fall Conference

Over one hundred WSIA members, friends, speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors turned out Friday in SeaTac to network with each other and learn from regulators and experts in safety and health, workers' compensation, and human resources. While we have numerous workshops and trainings coming up this fall, our next conference will take place in January in Gig Harbor and Spokane, and we look forward to seeing members at Winter West and East. 
Fall Conference presenters, l-r, Jacob Ewer, OSHA; Anne Soiza, DOSH; Brett Norton, Starbucks; Jeffrey Youmans, Davis Wright Tremaine; Damon Vickers, Cummins Goodman Denley & Vickers; Teresa Bartlett, Sedgwick, Nancy Maki, Open Gate Consulting

Department of Labor & Industries announces State Fund rate increase
On Wednesday, the Department of Labor & Industries proposed an overall overage rate increase for the State Fund of 0.7 percent for 2017. The Department has forecast that it could actually break even on benefit payments next year with a 2.4 percent decrease in premiums, but is proposing rates 3.1 percent above break-even to continue building its reserves. The Supplemental Pension Fund rate, paid by self-insured employers and workers as well, is slated to go up modestly from 9.5 cents per hour to 9.8 cents per hour. Read the Department's news release here. Since the proposed rate is an average, rates may be higher or lower in specific risk classes -- see the table of industry classes here. Rates specific to self-insured employers, such as the 2nd Injury Fund and administrative assessments, are expected to be announced in early October.

Court of Appeals publishes new wage calculation decision
On Monday, the state Court of Appeals published Harder Mechanical, Inc. v. Tierney, an appeal arising from the calculation of an injured worker's time loss benefits on a full time versus intermittent basis. Despite a record showing a fairly clear history of temporary and intermittent employment, the Court of Appeals upheld a Board determination, following the Avundes line of cases, that the claimant intended to work full-time, and directed his time loss be calculated on that basis, resulting in a rate more than twice what the intermittent rate would have been. The case highlights how difficult wage calculation can be in Washington under the existing system when seasonal or intermittent work is at issue. Read the decision here.

Department's latest update on audit reform Tier 1 pilot is available
Though overdue, the Self-Insurance program is working on wrapping up the Tier 1 pilot for audit reform, and has released the latest numbers on their progress. Of the 358 self-insured employers in the audit, as of September 1, 61 employers were not audited (due to lack of claims or new certification), 201 audits have been completed, and 96 audits remain. Of the 96 remaining audits, 33 are in finalization, and 63 remain in the field work stage. Of the 201 completed audits, 109 employer passed the 70 percent threshold. Check out the Department's brief here.

Department announces additional testing of SIRAS customer service portal
As something of an FYI, the Department announced earlier this week that a small number of injured workers may be contacted at random in a second round of testing by Anthro-Tech, a third party developer of the new SIRAS (Self-Insurance Risk Analysis System) customer service web portal. The testing involves making sure the user interface for submitting claims-related concerns is functional. See the Department's announcement here.

Comments sought on changes to confined spaces safety rule
Earlier this week, the Department released the latest round of proposed changes to its safety rule related to work in confined spaces, and scheduled a stakeholder meeting on October 3 from 9:00 a.m. to Noon at the L&I headquarters in Tumwater to discuss the draft. Additionally, those interested but unable to attend the meeting are encouraged to submit comments by e-mail to gail.hughes@lni.wa.gov  by October 6th. Get a copy of the latest proposal here.

WSIA News & Events:

WSIA receives approved provider status from HRCI and SHRM
We are very excited to announce WSIA's approval this week by the HR Certification Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management as an approved provider of recertification credits for those professionals in human resources holding the PHR, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP certifications. Accordingly, all relevant WSIA programming going forward will offer credit hours for these certifications as well. As workers' compensation and workplace safety responsibility continues to be integrated more and more with human resources in our member companies, we look forward to serving the expanded recertification needs of our members.  

WSIA Legislative Committee to meet 9/27 in Kent
WSIA's Legislative Committee is holding its next meeting on September 27th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the offices of Eberle Vivian in Kent to focus on legislative agenda and strategy for the upcoming 2017 legislative session. Any member can participate in the Legislative Committee. Contact Kris Tefft if interested

WSIA Conference Planning Committee to meet 9/30 in Kent
WSIA's Conference Planning Committee is meeting Friday, September 30th from 9:00 a.m. to Noon, in person at the Archbright offices in Kent, or online over the GoToMeeting platform. The Conference Planning Committee works on topics, speakers, agendas, and other program details related to the WSIA seasonal and annual conferences. Any member can participate in the Conference Planning Committee. Contact Patrick Koenig if interested, or for the online meeting login info.

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