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Safety & Health Resources

What to know if you get injured:

This past legislative session saw the passage of several new laws—some of which could put your benefits at risk if you aren’t aware of them. We hope you never need any of this information, but if you are injured on the job, remember these new changes before you discuss your injury with your employer.

 

Compromise and Release

Beginning January 1, 2012, injured workers age 55 or older will have a new option (expanded to workers age 53 and older in 2015 and age 50 and older in 2016). After this date, these workers with an allowed claim will be able to work with either their self-insured or state fund employer to negotiate a lump-sum settlement for their claim. For some workers this may be a good option – but for many workers, the settlement will be for fewer benefits than they are entitled to. We are very worried about how employers may abuse this process, leaving injured workers without the benefits they are owed or the medical care they need.

 

This legislation was crafted quickly and without sufficient stakeholder input, then enacted without any public hearing—all over the objection of workers and their representatives. There are several issues we want you to be aware of before they put you at risk.

 
Know your rights.  Talk to your representative.
  • You have an absolute right to retain future medical benefits--but that is a protection that your employer or their representative could explicitly negotiate away. Remember that healthcare coverage will not cover a workplace injury, so if you do not protect your right to future medical care, you could be left to deal with the ongoing cost of your injuries all on your own.
  • Under the new law, injured workers without a lawyer have their settlement offer reviewed for their 'best interests' before it is finalized. But the reviewer cannot offer any legal advice and will not have the time and resources to make a truly informed decision. Meanwhile, the injured worker will probably be negotiating against the employer's professionally trained and experienced attorney.
  • If a settlement is later found to have been coerced or negotiated under false and misleading information you will not be allowed out of settlement and will be given no further remedy to make up for the abuse or worse position they are left in.

When you are seriously injured on the job, you have many concerns—when, how and whether you will get back to work; getting the treatment and care you need for your injury; paying your bills; taking care of your family. Workers’ comp exists so that you are at least sure to make it through this difficult time without the ruin of your health and financial safety.
 

Imposing a lop-sided settlement negotiation into this difficult time is a dangerous proposition – especially because it is sometimes impossible to know the extent of an injury for a long period of time. We are very worried that employers will abuse and coerce workers who are scared for their jobs and in a time of physical and financial duress.   It is highly recommend that before entering into negotiations for a settlement and certainly before finalizing one that you talk to an attorney or at least your union rep. And that you do not enter into a settlement negotiation before you and your doctor are confident of the extent of your injuries.

 

Additionally, the following were also enacted earlier this year by the Legislature and you should be aware of:

 

Medical Provider Network
L&I is establishing a medical provider network for physicians and other health care providers who treat injured workers. Medical providers will be required to meet specific network requirements but it is hoped that most providers will participate in the network. As an injured worker you are not required to go to a network provider for the initial medical visit following an industrial injury. After the initial visit, you can choose any provider within the network.
 
Stay-at-Work Program
Employers are now eligible to be reimbursed by L&I for up to 50% of your wages if they provide you with appropriate transitional light duty work. This transitional light duty job must be approved by your attending physician.
 
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
For workers injured on or after June 15th of this year, the 8% interest applied to the unpaid balance of Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) awards has been eliminated. For an injured worker who is found permanently and totally disabled and awarded a pension, any prior PPD awards paid under the claim or claims that give rise to the pension will be deducted from the worker’s pension benefits.
 
Cost-of-Living Adjustments
The legislature froze COLAs for pension benefits and Temporary Total Disability (time loss) benefits for one year. This means that pension and timeloss benefits did not increase on July 1, 2011. Additionally, the first COLA increase following an industrial injury is delayed to the second July 1 following the injury.
 
If you have questions about any of these programs, contact Project Help at 1-800-255-9752. They will be able to provide you with more information about your workplace injury claim.  See below.

 


Project HELP can assist you

Project Help is a resource for injured workers that provides information and assistance regarding their entitlements under the Workers' Compensation Laws of Washington State.  Their priority is to resolve claim issues by providing accurate and timely information about the injured workers' rights and responsibilities under the Law.  All of the services provided by Project Help are available free of charge - no cost to injured workers.  Project Help provides workers with access to information about the claim process, as well as a patient listener who understands the frustrations with the system.  They communicate directly with department claim managers and supervisors, and their inquires are considered a priority.  If Project Help cannot resolve your issue they will provide you with a list of attorneys in your area.  You can reach Project Help at a toll-free number, 1-800-255-9752.  Project Help also presents workshops for local unions on "How the System Works" providing an overview of workers' compensation. 


The Center to Protect Workers' Rights was founded by the National BCTD as its research, development, and training arm. CPWR works with Building Trades workers, contractors, experts in government and at universities nationwide, and others to develop practical ways to prevent injuries, illnesses, and deaths on the job. The goal is to improve the quality of life for construction workers and their families, while refining best practices, and improving industry productivity.

Access to free trainings, publications on advanced safety protocols and more can be found on their website http://www.cpwr.com/indexstart.html

 


 


Sep 29, 2011

L&I’s Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) Program is offering grant money for safety and health improvement projects

Do you have a great idea for improving workplace safety and health, like a new type of training or an innovative design for safer equipment? If so, we wants to hear from you and may help fund your project.

A new round of safety and health grants is now available through L&I’s Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) Program. Applications will be accepted until April 22, 2016.

In the past two years, the SHIP Program has provided $2.5 million for 19 safety and health grants.

SHIP grants are designed to encourage innovative solutions to occupational health and safety challenges, as well as to promote cooperation between labor and management.

Prior safety and health grants have funded the development of best practices for specific occupations or industries, videos and training programs, and many other improvements to make workplaces safer. A list of successful grant projects is available at http://www.lni.wa.gov/safety/GrantsPartnerships/SHIP/Grants.asp

The grants are capped at $200,000 per project, and the work must be completed in 18 months.

Along with the SHIP grants, there are also funds available for return-to-work projects. The goal of the return-to-work grants is to encourage new processes to help injured workers get back to work. The return-to-work grant period is open until further notice.

For complete information on how to get started or to apply, visit www.Lni.wa.gov/SafetyGrants or call 360-902-5588.




Page Last Updated: Feb 17, 2016 (11:04:00)
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