HR Homeroom: Wash. Tips to Employers for Preventing Injuries and Controlling Costs

15 Jun, 2024 Frank Ferreri


Seattle, WA ( -- Those who subscribe to our Simply Research compliance database know that the State of Washington recently released a Guide to Workers' Compensation for employers.

Here's the lowdown on what the guide has for employers.


Know the safety and health rules for your workplace

The guide explained that employers must be aware of rules, policies, and procedures to protect employees from workplace hazards. To that end, the guide provided two examples of items that might not be on employers' radars.

Example 1 Employers are required to identify the hazards in their workplace and develop and maintain a written accident prevention program tailored to the hazards of their specific workplaces.

Example 2 Employers must make sure that first aid personnel are available to provide quick and effective first aid. In the absence of a clinic or hospital in near proximity to the workplace, employers must train at least one person to provide first aid and first aid kids must be available in the workplace.

No-fee Safety or Health Consultation

Employers can request that a consultant, not an inspector, come to their workplaces to conduct a no-fee, confidential walkthrough of a work site to identify hazards and recommend remedies. The employer must correct in a timely manner any serious hazards found during the consultation, but the consultant will not issue a citation or fine.

Send the Right Message to Employees

The guide encourages employers to create a culture of safety. Steps include:

+ Developing a written safety and health program and sharing it with employees. A program communicates a commitment to safety and health and defines what is expected of workers.

+ Encouraging employees to come forward with safety or health concerns. Employees are often the best source of ideas for making changes that reduce workplace hazards.

+ Empowering the safety committee and holding regular meetings.

+ Discussing safety in orientations for new employees.

+ Providing the training employees need to do new jobs or tasks safely.

Manage Claims

The guide spelled out that a claims management system should include:

+ Investigating accidents and "near misses." The purpose is not to fix blame or deny benefits to anyone injured but to determine what steps can be taken to avoid incidents in the future.

+ Monitoring claims consistently by assigning one person to handle them. This person should keep track of important dates and deadlines for protests or appeals.

+ Getting involved in employees' claims.

+ Learning about and taking advantage of return-to-work strategies. The goal is to get an injured worker back to work as soon as possible. For example, some workers can carry out different tasks or work part-time until they are fully recovered.

Consider 'Retro'

In Washington, Retro is an optional financial incentive program to help qualifying employers reduce their workers' compensation costs. Employers can enroll on their own or in a group plan sponsored by a trade association or professional organization. Employers may receive premium refunds or they may be assessed additional premium based on their performance.

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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Frank encourages everyone to consider helping out the Kind Souls Foundation and Kids' Chance of America.

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