Keeping workers safe and healthy is an important part of human resources, but we know accidents can still happen in the workplace. Is your nonprofit ready to address an accident or injury when one occurs? Do you have questions about workers’ compensation and supporting employees in returning to work? At our HR Gathering on October 25, 2022, we explored safety and health, workers’ compensation, and early return to work with three speakers from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). The recording is available if you want to review full the presentations. This article pulls together some key takeaways and provides direct links to L&I webpages so you can learn more about these topics.

Safety & Health

Did you know the L&I Division of Occupational Safety & Health (DOSH) has no-fee, confidential consultation services? Consultation services are available for safety, industrial hygiene, ergonomics, and risk management. DOSH consultants can help nonprofit employers, no matter the size or type of organization, find and fix hazards in your workplace and strengthen your safety program. You can call a consultant near you or request an onsite consultation at no cost. 

In recognition of businesses who dedicate time and attention to improving their workplace safety culture and reduce hazards, injuries, and illness, L&I has the Safety Through Achieving Recognition Together (START) certification. Visit the START webpage to learn more about START benefits and how to participate in the certification program.

Workers’ Compensation & Early Return to Work

Workers’ compensation pays for medical care for work-related injuries and illness. A worker must initiate the claim process by filing a Report of Accident, and L&I (or a self-insured employer) must receive the Report of Accident within one year of the worker’s injury date to file a claim. For occupational disease claims, the Report of Accident must be received within two years from the date the worker received written notice from a doctor that the condition was occupationally related.

After a worker initiates a claim, the employer will get a claim letter with a claim number. Once you have the claim number, you can file the employer’s Report of Accident online or by mail. The injured worker, the employer, or the health care provider can protest or appeal any decision made about a claim. L&I must receive a written protest within 60 calendar days of the date you receive the decision; otherwise, the decision is final.

In L&I’s Return to Work Toolkit, it is noted “The longer an employee remains off work, the harder it is for them to return to their original job and income.” Having a solid return to work program at your nonprofit can help injured employees get back to work safely and sooner. An effective return to work strategy has many benefits including the opportunity to provide potential wage, training, and equipment reimbursements through the L&I Stay at Work Program. Also, L&I has a team of Early Return to Work consultants who can provide expertise and assistance whether you are looking to limit claims costs and unexpected delays, prepare for future claims, or create a work culture that encourages workers to return to work. 

Lastly, if you ever have any questions or are not sure where to start, contact the L&I Small Business Liaisons team for help. You can email the Small Business Liaisons at [email protected] or call toll-free at 1-800-987-0145.

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