News from Washington's Workers' Comp & Workplace Safety Leader
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The WSIA Weekly, 4.15.16

New workshop on BIIA mediation added to training calendar
This week, we added an important new daylong workshop to our calendar of events, focusing on the process of mediating disputes at the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, a process of interest to lawyers, claims professionals, and service providers alike. Nearly 90 percent of appeals the Board accepts are referred to mediation, and about half of those appeals settle or are dismissed. Ann Silvernale, a former Board judge and attorney with Holmes, Weddle & Barcott will be leading the workshop, with guest presentations from other judges, attorneys, and experts. It's taking place on June 8th at the Inn at Gig Harbor. More details and registration page are available on the website. Contact Patrick Koenig with any questions.

WCAC meeting materials available for download
The Workers' Compensation Advisory Committee met on Wednesday at the Labor & Industries Headquarters in Tumwater, hearing a series of updates on the financial state of the workers' comp system, the Department's return to work initiatives, and medical management initiatives. Interested folks can download the meeting materials here. Contact Kris Tefft with any questions.

Last call for wage calculation workshop; event is next week
The next few days are your last chance to register for our upcoming wage calculation workshop, being taught by experts from within the Department's self-insurance section as well as in private claims management. With calculations being incredibly complex and also under audit scrutiny, this isn't one to miss. It's next Thursday at the Inn at Gig Harbor. Details and registration page are on the website. Contact Patrick Koenig with any questions.

New L&I policies finalized, effective next month
Earlier this week, the Department of Labor & Industries announced the final adoption of two revised workers' compensation policies, one relating to scheduling independent medical examinations, and the other making housekeeping changes to how benefit payments are to be delivered. The new policies go into effect May 15th. You can see the IME policy here, and the check handling policy here

BIIA members clash over causation principles in interesting decision
BIIA employer representative Jack Eng brought a new Decision & Order to our attention this week, where Judge Eng clashed with the two-person majority over basic proximate causation principles as it related to the contended worsening of a previous injury. Eng's dissent argues the Board engaged in a wrongly limited view of proximate causation, expanding employer liability and "effectively grant[ing the claimant] general medical and disability insurance for his knee condition in contravention of the purpose of the Act." A copy of the D&O is available here.

L&I announces workplace deaths hit near-historic low in 2015; memorial ceremony coming April 28th
Also this week, Labor & Industries announced in a press release that the total of workplace deaths reached near-historic lows in 2015. The Department noted there were 58 work-related deaths in 2015, down 18 from the prior year. The numbers were released in anticipation of this year's Worker Memorial Ceremony, taking place April 28th at 2:00 p.m. at the L&I headquarters in Tumwater. WSIA President Sheri Sundstrom of Hoffman Construction will be joining Governor Inslee, L&I Director Joel Sacks, and other business and labor leaders in offering remarks on this solemn occasion.

DOSH Talk on confined spaces seeking participant questions in advance
Last week, we noted the addition of a new Safety Committee "DOSH Talk" segment taking place online on April 27th at 9:30 a.m., and featuring Division of Occupational Health and Safety consultant Mary Yakawich leading a discussion of the Department's safety regulations related to work in confined spaces like attics, crawl spaces, and the like. The program is complimentary to register for, and the Safety Committee is strongly encouraging participants to e-mail any questions to be worked up in advance of the broadcast, either to Safety Committee Chair John Shervey or to WSIA's Patrick Koenig. Registration for the program is here, and we encourage members to pass along to any safety colleagues who may benefit.

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