Join SBH Attorney Steve Verotsky to learn about Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Insurance

SBH resident Longshore expert, Steve Verotsky, will join Dan Schaller from Woodruff Sawyer and Moderator Gary McCann on Wednesday February 10 at 12:00 pm in a webinar to discuss United State Longshore & Harbor workers’ compensation insurance. Steve and Dan will cover key topics and common questions including: Recognizing when a project may be subject o Longshore & Harbor coverage and rates Whether a project can be subject to both State compensation coverage and Longshore coverage What happens if a subcontractor does not have Longshore coverage What is situs and what is status and why is matters Steps to obtain Longshore coverage Understand Longshore endorsements You won’t want to miss this informative event! You can register here.

Washington Legislature Begins 2021 Session: Senate Bill 502

The Washington Legislature started its 2021 session on January 11, 2021 and recently began deliberations on several bills including Senate Bill 5102 which includes numerous troublesome provisions relating to the administration of independent medical examinations, claim file updates/document transmission to the Department of Labor & Industries, and limiting evidence before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals. As proposed in its current form, Senate Bill 5102 includes additional provisions to RCW 51.36.070 such as: limiting employers to one examination prior to filing an appeal with the Board when the issue is claim allowance/denial; one examination for a permanent disability rating when the claim is initially closed or for each time curative treatment is provided after a reopening application; and one examination… Continue reading

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, keep in mind OAR 436-060-0141 requirements before issuing a denial

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Oregon, it is reasonable to anticipate a corresponding surge in workers’ compensation claims related to confirmed COVID-19 cases and/or presumed exposures that require quarantine. When processing these claims, keep in mind the Workers’ Compensation Division’s temporary rule, OAR 436-060-0141, that went into effect on October 1, 2020, and remains in effect through at least March 29, 2021. In most workers’ compensation claims, it is the worker’s burden of proof to establish his/her disability and/or need for treatment. However, the temporary rule adopted by the WCD establishes a “presumption” of compensability, placing the burden of proof on the employer/insurer/administrator to establish the propriety of a COVID-19 claim’s denial. The temporary rule requires that, for… Continue reading

New Oregon 801 Form Effective January 1, 2021

The Workers’ Compensation Division implemented a new 801 and 827 form–effective January 1, 2021. The new 801/827 forms remove the Social Security Number. The removal comes after the Management-Labor Advisory Committee (MLAC) advised the Department of Consumer and Business Services that the requirement of the Social Security Number caused some workers pause in filing claims. Further, there were certainly security issues with including the Social Security Number on a form that could ultimately became a part of a public hearing record. Carriers/self-insured employers are still required to report the Social Security Number on the 1502 when reporting claims to the WCD. While the new forms were effective on January 1, 2021, there is a grace period for actual implementation… Continue reading

Employer Resources for Compliance with Oregon OSHA’s Temporary COVID-19 Workplace Standards

The recently adopted Temporary Rule Addressing COVID-19 Workplace Risks by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OR-OSHA) includes a series of requirements for employers operating in Oregon and clarifies standards on physical distancing, face coverings, and workplace sanitation practices. Under the rule, employers are required to (among other things) conduct a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment, create an infection control plan, complete Infection Control Training (based in part on the Infection Control Plan) and establish a process to quickly notify employees of any work-related contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19. Although OR-OSHA delayed implementation and enforcement of these requirements for certain employers whose business operations were most directly affected by the new COVID Risk … Continue reading

Reflecting on 2020 and Looking Ahead to 2021

The past year brought many changes within the world of Washington workers’ compensation. Some changes were planned, such as the Department’s updated forms and templates and new rules for exempt employee salaries, while other changes were born out of necessity following the global outbreak of COVID-19. As we say goodbye to 2020 and look ahead to the coming year, we expect ongoing adjustments to the COVID-19 related rules which have been implemented and anticipate new trends influenced by the pandemic, which are likely to reverberate through Washington workers’ compensation for many years to come. Effects of COVID-19 A multitude of issues associated with coronavirus will persist into 2021 and it will continue to impact how claims are processed and managed.… Continue reading

FFCRA Leave not Extended under New Stimulus Bill

Earlier this year, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which required covered employers to provide eligible employees with paid leave for specific COVID-19 related reasons. The FFCRA allows up to 80 hours of paid leave with an additional 10 weeks under certain circumstances. Beginning April 1, 2020, employers were permitted to claim a tax credit to recoup the cost of providing FFCRA leave. . The FFCRA is set to expire December 31, 2020. Last week, Congress delivered a new COVID relief package. As proposed, the bill includes several stimulus provisions including increased unemployment benefits and direct payments to individuals. However, the bill does not extend the FFCRA. The bill extends the tax credit available… Continue reading

New Year, New Restrictions On IMEs in Washington

New Year, New Restrictions On IMEs in Washington With the new year, comes new restrictions on independent medical examinations in Washington. On January 1, legislative revisions to RCW 51.36.070 take effect which more narrowly define when and how self-insured employers may exercise their authority to require a claimant to attend an independent medical examination. To implement these changes, the Department recently issued two interim IME policies which also take effect January 1. Changes to RCW 51.36.070 Effective Jan. 1, 2021 The most significant change to RCW 51.36.070 is the addition of new restrictions on when a claimant may be required to attend an IME. Previously, the law permitted the Department/self-insured employer to obtain an IME “in order to resolve any… Continue reading

EEOC Provides Guidance on Employer Mandated COVID-19 Vaccination

On December 16, 2020, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provided updated guidance on the subject of vaccines in the wake of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for emergency use. The guidance sets out the framework by which employers can implement and enforce mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies for employees. The EEOC guidance suggests (but does not explicitly state) such policies are not unlawful as long as the employer (i) follows accommodation requirements under the ADA and Title VII such as the need to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities, pregnant workers and sincerely-held religious beliefs and (ii) determines the proper scope and permissibility of pre-vaccination medical screening questions. Here are the key… Continue reading

Oregon MLAC Holds Final Meeting for 2020

The Management Labor Advisory Committee (MLAC) held what is most likely its final meeting of 2020. Much of the meeting was recapping the significant changes we have already seen in our system this year and outlining their plan for next year. There were a few areas of note from the WCD: The WCD is currently auditing 9 insurers and 3 self-insurers related to the new reasonable investigation rules related to COVID claims. The summary report from how these investigations have been going should be available in the next month or two. One common theme was many workers’ claims were being initiated by medical providers after an employer referred the worker for testing and not from the workers themselves. The WCD… Continue reading
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