华盛顿州劳工与工业部（Labor & Industries）日前在西雅图中文电台举行系列法律讲座，介绍华州的相关劳工法律，包括工作场所的安全、工伤，劳工部对小企业主的法规要求，州政府对犯罪受害人的补偿项目等，敬请关注。
华州劳工与工业部WA L&I系列讲座之三：犯罪受害人补偿项目 （2018年04月28日，主持人：小元，嘉宾：Cletus Nnanabu）
华州劳工与工业部WA L&I系列讲座之二：小企业怎么遵守法规 （2018年02月24日，主持人：小元，嘉宾：Rose Gundersen）
华州劳工与工业部WA L&I系列讲座之一：工作场所的安全问题 （2018年02月03日，主持人：小元，嘉宾：Craig Blackwood）
Introduction to the Crime Victims Program
We are here today with Cletus Nnanabu, from the Crime Victims Compensation program at the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. Mr. Nnanabu is here to share information about the services they provide.
- Can you explain your program to us?
The Crime Victims Compensation Program helps victims of felony crimes with expenses for medical, dental, and mental-health care, and with lost wages.
- Who can get benefits?
Anyone who has been the victim of a crime in the State of Washington can apply for benefits, referred to as filing a claim. Claims may be approved if the victims meet the eligibility criteria.
- What benefits are available under the Crime Victims Program?
The program’s benefits include medical, dental, mental-health treatment, and lost wages. In cases of fatalities, burial benefits may also be available.
- How does a victim of a crime apply for benefits?
First, crimes must be reported to a law enforcement agency. After that, victims can get an application from the L&I website or from doctors’ offices or county Victims/Witness offices. The applications are reviewed to determine if victims meet the eligibility criteria. Then L&I staff mail out notices approving or denying the claim.
- What happens if a victim is undocumented?
Our application does not ask for your immigration status. It is not a requirement to file a claim or get benefits from our program.
- What happens if I have medical insurance? Can I access benefits from through this program?
Persons with medical insurance can also qualify for this program. At times, insurance does not cover all the care that is needed. In addition, medical insurance may not offer wage-loss benefits.
- Do you have different benefits for victims of sexual crimes?
Yes, victims of sex crimes, such as sexual assault, can have the initial sexual assault exam. This exam is covered by the program without an application. All hospitals and emergency centers bill the L&I Crime Victims Program directly for services rendered.
- How can we contact you?
Please call our toll-free number: 800-762-3716. We have Spanish-speaking staff members who can assist you. You can also visit our website: www.crimevictims.lni.wa.gov.
Questions and Answers for the Small Business Liaison Interview with non-English radio stations (02/24/2018)
We are here today with Rose Gundersen, the Small Business Liaison at Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. She’s here to talk about how her office helps small businesses, the why and how of learning government regulatory compliance.
Q: First of all, why is the Chinese business community important to the state of WA?
A: Let me first speak about the huge role small businesses play in WA State’s overall economy. 96% of the state’s registered businesses have fewer than 50 employees, but they employ nearly 46% of the state’s private sector workforce. The people in the state of WA, especially government sector, want to express our gratitude to these hardworking and innovative small business owners for investing their talents to build our economy and to create jobs in our state.
According to the US Census Bureau, 13 % of WA State’s population are foreign born. A large number of these immigrants come with skills to start their own business. We are thankful that your community finds our state being hospital to entrepreneurship.
Q: How does your Small Business Liaison Office help small business?
A: Most small business owners are experts at the products or services they offer, and most of them want to do what is right when it comes to following government rules. However, the government here is complex. There requirements set by the federal, state, county and city governments.
While most business owners consult their accountants or attorneys to comply with these requirements, I want them to know – it is best to go to the source. They will get the most accurate and free information by contacting these government agencies directly. The Small Business Liaison Office is the entryway to learn employer responsibilities administered by Labor and Industries or L&I, for short.
Q: What does L&I do?
A: L&I is a large agency that administers several programs for businesses with employees. The main programs that small business owners may interact with are Safety and Health, Workers’ Compensation, and Employment Standards. Each of these programs has a different set of requirements created to protect the safety and rights of WA state workers.
For example, our workers’ compensation program is similar to what a private insurance company does. We cover medical and other services for workers who are injured on the job. Employers and employees regularly pay fees, called insurance premiums, to support the system.
When employers learn how to follow these regulations that protect workers’ safety and rights, they reap the benefits of having stable operations and happy employees. All these contribute to business owners’ bottom-line.
Q: How does L&I help non-English speaking such as the Chinese business owners in learning these requirements?
A: For business owners who have limited English proficiency, reaching government may be a scary thing because of language and cultural barriers, or they do not even know where to begin. Our agency is always ready to provide language interpreting and translation service whenever you reach any one of our phone line or regional offices. This is your right.
Q: That is great to know. I think it is important for business owners to know the likely consequences if they do not find out or learn regulatory requirements.
A: Thank you for this important question. Our state law delegates enforcement authority to our agency’s three main programs in order to fulfill the “Keep WA safe and working” mission.
For safety and health inspections, they can be unannounced and/or initiated by one of the following: observed serious hazards like seeing a worker without harness on a roof, scheduled inspections, safety complaints by neighbors, employees, or anyone, hospitalizations or fatal incidents. Fines could be at least $1,000 per violation. Businesses often have multiple violations that may add up to $5,000 to over $100,000.
For workers compensation insurance, we conduct audit to ensure the integrity of the system and to combat the underground economy or the black market. Our auditors review financial and contracting records businesses are required to keep for 3 years. There may be adjustments made to premiums if needed, and our auditor also provides education to help the employer to comply.
Employment Standard involves workers’ right law related to minimum wage, overtime payment, rest and meal period, and paid sick leave that became effective 1/1/2018. If your employee files a complaint with L&I on any of these requirements, L&I is obligated to review evidence and investigate.
You have the right to appeal for all these three programs enforcement decisions, but it is time consuming and we find that employers often end up with fines because they have not diligently comply with the recordkeeping requirements.
Q: Where do you recommend for them to start understanding government regulatory requirements, especially for Chinese small business owners?
A: I’ll first talk about what L&I offers so that you will stay in compliance to avoid being fined. Then I will mention other resources available to you.
L&I provides a multitude of education resources for all our programs in the form of:
Web-based information and publications you can download or obtain from our agency. For examples, employers are required to post the “Your right as workers” poster. We offer this poster for free in multiple languages, including Chinese.
Workshops including in-person or webinars. You can find them at http://www.lni.wa.gov/workshops
To comply with employer responsibilities related to safety and health, L&I offers free consultations and online safety education by topics.
You can invite an expert to come speak to your business or community organization.
To learn about L&I requirements, you can reach the Small Business Liaison office first by calling 1-800-987-0145, email SmallBusines@lni.wa.gov. We offer free language interpreting services anytime you make such a request when you are interacting with us on the phone or in person. My program has the knowledge and resources to offer any of the following:
Answer questions or refer you to experts on all things related to any programs in L&I
Connect you to the small business liaison at various state agencies that deal with small businesses to answer your questions
Refer you to free business advisors that can help your business planning and development, financing referrals and likely resources to help run your business.
For state regulatory requirements, the WA Small Business Guide is a good place to start. This Guide comes in five different languages, and Chinese is one of them. Please reach my webpage at www.lni.wa.gov/SmallBusiness and click on WA Small Business Guide to download the language of your choice.
Questions and Answers for Interviews with DOSH on Chinese Radio Seattle (02/03/2018)
- We are here today with Craig Blackwood, Deputy Assistant Director for the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). Mr. Blackwood is here to share information about DOSH’s mission and services they provide.
First of all, can you briefly explain your mission?
- We are here to help ensure that Washington employers are providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. Our jurisdiction covers approximately 190,000 employers with 300,000 worksites employing 3 million employees. We don’t have jurisdiction over federal employees, tribal employers or employees, maritime on navigable waterways or employees at Hanford.
Washington is what is referred to as a “state plan” state. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) was passed in 1970 and contains a provision that states can run their own state safety and health program as long as it is at least as effective as OSHA.
- How do employees notify DOSH if they have a workplace safety or health concern?
- Employees who have concerns about workplace safety or health conditions can submit a complaint form to us, contact us by phone at 1-800-423-7233 (1-800-4BE-SAFE) or call one of our offices throughout the state. We are currently working to develop an online complaint form so employees will be able to file complaints with us electronically.
We have staff at offices throughout the state available to assist. Numbers for all of our offices can be found on our website at www.lni.wa.gov . Information on the website is available in Chinese, and we do have some staff who speak Chinese.
It is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who file complaints with us, participate in interviews during our inspections or raise safety and health concerns.
In addition to responding to employee complaints our compliance safety and health staff also respond to imminent danger, accidents, and referrals and conduct some routine scheduled inspections.
- Can you share some information about inspection activity?
We conduct about 4000 compliance inspections each year. Not all violations carry a monetary penalty, however serious violations which are those that have a direct impact on employee safety and health do carry a monetary penalty. The average penalty amount varies based on the number of employees an employer has, and several other factors. Overall the average penalty for a serious violation is close to $2200.00
Some of the most common violations we issue are due to employers not having a written safety program or training employees as well as employees not being protected from fall hazards, unguarded machinery and chemicals.
If an employer disagrees with any of our inspection findings or penalty amounts they do have the right to appeal. The typical appeal is handled informally by one of our Regional Hearings Officers. If an employer doesn’t agree with the decision of the Regional Hearings Officer they can appeal to the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals.
- What services does DOSH provide for employers and how are those services accessed?
- We provide free consultation and risk management services for employers. Employers can request on site safety and health consultation services. The service is free and information is confidential. Employers do not receive fines but do agree to correct any deficiencies identified by our consultants. In addition to our safety and health consultants employers can also utilize our risk management services.
Our risk managers help evaluate employer’s claims and injury history to identify ways to prevent future claims and injuries. They can also assist employers with advice on how to manage difficult claims.
- What industries have the highest percentage of work injuries?
- Construction, agriculture, logging, transportation and warehousing operations have the highest rate of workplace injuries. Many injuries occur as a result of falls from elevation as well as being struck by an object or moving piece of equipment.
Washington State has one of the lowest fatality rates for all industries, and routinely has the lowest fatality rate in construction.
- What else does DOSH do?
- We do many things in addition to our consultation and compliance activity.
We do rule-making to ensure we have rules that when followed provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees.
We oversee the asbestos certification program for the state. Currently there are a total of 2300 certified contractors, supervisors and workers.
We run the crane certification program ensuring cranes and their operators are properly certified. Currently there are 4800 certified cranes in the state.
We run the explosives licensing program for the state. Currently there are 680 active explosives licenses.
We have an Education and Outreach unit responsible for:
- Safety and Health Investment Program (SHIP) grants.
- Digital outreach and marketing.
- Conference events (Annual Governor’s Conference, Construction, Agriculture and Maritime Safety Days.
- Hispanic Outreach (WISHA 10)
- Employer Cooperative Programs (VPP and START).
- What is the leading cause of workplace injuries?
- The leading cause of workplace injuries are sprains and strains which can be caused by lifting, repetitive or awkward movements. The leading cause of workplace fatalities are transportation incidents and falls.
If employers and workers FOCUS on the FACTS and they will address almost all workplace hazards that lead to serious injuries, illnesses or death.
F = Falls
A = Assaults/Struck By
C = Caught in or between
T = Toxins
S = Sprains and Strains
- What should a worker do if they are injured at work?
- Immediately notify their supervisor and seek first aid or medical attention depending on the severity of the injury.