Airline Safety for Workers and Passengers

Airline safety for workers and passengers is critical if we are ever to return to prior levels of travel. Overall, airline travel has been reduced due to COVID-19 concerns by 90% or more. Delta airlines, one of the world’s largest air carriers and employers, has implemented many changes to protect both passengers and employees from the coronavirus.

We are sharing the information published by Delta for your information. You can see Delta’s safety protocols here. Other airlines may have different procedures and protocols – check with your carrier for more information.

Safety Starts at Check-In

When passengers check in, they are required to wear a mask until they reach their destination. Delta’s employees will be wearing them as well . Surfaces are wiped down throughout the day, starting with kiosks and baggage stations. Delta will have plexiglass shields in place at check-in and gate counters by the end of May. Passengers will be encouraged to maintain a safe distance with decals at check-in, at the gate and on all Delta-owned jet bridges. 

Gate Areas and Onboard Aircraft

Delta gate areas and jet bridges are disinfected with electrostatic spraying. Before passengers board, Delta employees follow an extensive cleaning checklist with authority to hold the flight for additional cleaning if they aren’t satisfied. This includes safely sanitizing each aircraft with electrostatic spraying before every flight and wiping down tray tables and seatback screens.

Boarding will occur from back to front and be limited to 10 customers at a time to minimize contact with others. Snack bags with a sanitizing wipe will be distributed at boarding on select flights to reduce onboard service touch points. Every Delta flight is capped at 60 percent capacity and middle seats are blocked for protection.

Delta state that the air on all aircraft is completely recirculated 10 to 30 times per hour with fresh, outside air or through industrial-grade HEPA filters with similar performance to those used in hospital operating rooms and other highly sensitive environments. Announcements will also encourage passengers to take time when deplaning to create distance for those ahead to exit. 

Airline Safety for Workers and Passengers

Airline safety for workers and passengers is equally important. Not only are all onboard employees sharing the risk to provide service, but other workers associated with plane travel are, as well. Baggage handlers, shuttle drivers, rental car agents, TSA screeners and every worker in between is sharing this risk to keep essential travel moving.

Many passengers are also employees, traveling for their own work or business needs.

More Assistance if Injury or Illness Occurs

Workers’ compensation benefits are possible for essential workers exposed to the coronavirus. This is possible for airline employees and may be true for some passengers, on a case-by-case basis.

If you have questions about a potential claim, feel free to contact our firm for assistance. We offer a free case analysis and are happy to discuss your specific circumstances with you.

Prior Articles on Related Topics

BIIA Appeal Proceedings Will be Remote Until July 3rd

All Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals appeal proceedings will be remote access until July 3rd. The Board has extended the period of time that Board offices will remain closed to the public due to the Coronavirus.

Board judges will typically handle proceedings by telephone conference calls. In certain circumstances, the judge may opt for video conferencing using a third-party service, CourtCall. This is usually for the purpose of hearings, where evidence and testimony is presented, rather than more informal procedural events.

Prior to this extension, Board judges had converted all case proceedings scheduled through May of this year to telephone or CourtCall events. If you have proceedings set through May, there should be no need to change them. Any court proceedings scheduled as in-person events during June – July 3 will need to be addressed.

Conferences and Hearings to Be Adjusted

Board judges will reach out to those parties with events in June and early July. The judge will ask if they can convert the proceedings from live to remote-access events. In the event that a party is aggrieved that the appeal proceedings will be remote, a request can be made for the case to be continued to a later date. This would most likely be in the case of a hearing. This decision is at the judge’s discretion. Any rescheduled event date is subject to the availability of the judges and parties and will likely cause a delay in proceedings.

More Information and Assistance

More information can be found on the Board’s website. If you have an appeal pending, you may also contact the judge assigned to your case, or their assistant.

We often suggest that claimants have legal representation when their case is on appeal. This may be especially true when appeal proceedings will be remote access. Feel free to contact our firm for assistance with your case. We offer a free analysis of your case and will give you our opinion on whether you need legal assistance, or not, and how we recommend you proceed.

Prior Posts on Related Topics

COVID-19 Safety for Meat Packing Plants

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued joint guidelines on COVID-19 safety for meat packing and processing plants on April 26, 2020. Meat and poultry processing facilities are a component of the critical infrastructure within the Food and Agriculture Sector.

President Trump found food-processing workers bear a special responsibility to maintain their normal schedules during this national emergency. He then issued his April 28, 2020 Executive Order with respect to food supply chain resources  to ensure that meat and poultry processors continue operations.

“Workers involved in meat and poultry processing are not exposed to SARS-CoV-2 through the meat products they handle. However, their work environments—processing lines and other areas in busy plants where they have close contact with coworkers and supervisors—may contribute substantially to their potential exposures.“

– Interim Guidance from CDC and OSHA
Distinctive Risks for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers

The CDC/OSHA Guidance for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers and Employers outlines exposure risks among meat and poultry processing workers.

Distinctive factors that affect workers’ risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in meat and poultry processing workplaces include:

  • Distance between workers – meat and poultry processing workers often work close to one another on processing lines. Workers may also be near one another at other times, such as when clocking in or out, during breaks, or in locker/changing rooms.
  • Duration of contact – meat and poultry processing workers often have prolonged closeness to coworkers (e.g., for 10-12 hours per shift). Continued contact with potentially infectious individuals increases the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
  • Type of contact – meat and poultry processing workers may be exposed to the infectious virus through respiratory droplets in the air – for example, when workers in the plant who have the virus cough or sneeze. It is also possible that exposure could occur from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, such as tools, workstations, or break room tables. Shared spaces such as break rooms, locker rooms, and entrances/exits to the facility may contribute to their risk.
  • Other distinctive factors that may increase risk among these workers include:
    • A common practice at some workplaces of sharing transportation such as ride-share vans or shuttle vehicles, car-pools, and public transportation
    • Frequent contact with fellow workers in community settings in areas where there is ongoing community transmission.
Recommendations for Workplace Safety

The CDC/OSHA guidelines go into great detail to outline the steps that employers can take to ensure COVID-19 safety for meat packing and processing plants. These include:

  • Create a COVID-19 assessment and control plan
  • Engineering Controls – Modify the alignment of workstations, including along processing lines, etc.
  • Administrative Controls –  promote social distancing, analyze sick leave policies, etc.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Educate and train workers and supervisors about how they can reduce the spread of COVID-19
  • Cleaning and disinfection in meat and poultry processing
  • Screening and monitoring of workers for COVID-19
  • Managing sick workers
  • Addressing return to work
  • Workers’ rights
Filing a Complaint – Concerns About Safety and Health

Section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 29 USC 660(c), prohibits employers from retaliating against workers for raising concerns about safety and health conditions. Additionally, OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programexternal icon enforces the provisions of more than 20 industry-specific federal laws protecting employees from retaliation for raising or reporting concerns about hazards or violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health insurance reform, motor vehicle safety, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities, and tax laws. OSHA encourages workers who suffer such retaliation to submit a complaint to OSHA as soon as possible in order to file their complaint within the legal time limits, some of which may be as short as 30 days from the date they learned of or experienced retaliation.

An employee can file a complaint with OSHA if they have concerns about proper implementation of COVID-19 safety for meat packing and processing workers. A complaint can be filed by visiting or calling the local OSHA office; sending a written complaint via fax, mail, or email to the closest OSHA office; or filing a complaint online. No particular form is required, and complaints may be submitted in any language. OSHA has contact information, here.

Coronavirus on the Job – Workers’ Compensation

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and and Department of Labor and Industries Director Joel Sacks issued a press release concerning the Department’s policy on workers’ compensation coverage related to exposures to Coronavirus on the job.

Under the State’s clarified policy, workers’ compensation benefits must be provided to health care workers and first responders. The policy also applies to others who may have accepted claims for exposure to COVID-19; for example, those who are working in facilities with documented exposures or others whose claims may be approved.

Workers who are quarantined by a physician or public health officer are entitled to workers compensation benefits during the time they’re quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19 on the job. If they develop the coronavirus, workers’ compensation benefits would be provided during their period of illness and recovery, as well, under an allowed claim.

See our prior post, DLI NEWS: CORONAVIRUS ON THE JOB, for more details.

COVID-19 Safety on the Job site

Every worker must understand and participate in COVID-19 safety on the job site. We are all responsible for our own safety and we can all make a positive impact on the safety of others.

Washington State has entered Phase 1 of of 4 towards reopening from the Coronavirus closures. The following chart outlines the general plan for reopening, although the timing of each step remains uncertain (click for an enlarged chart):

The first steps for Phase 1 include a return to work for some construction companies. Low-risk construction work resumes in Phase 1. Requirements have been issued to ensure COVID-19 safety on the job site for all workers. Know what is required in order to be sure that these rules are being followed by you, your co-workers and your employer.

COVID-19 Job Site Requirements

“Any existing construction projects complying with [these] points may resume only those work activities that do not require workers to be closer than six-feet together. If a work activity requires workers to be closer than six-feet, it is not considered low- risk and is not authorized. Adherence to the physical distancing requirement and the health and safety points… will be strictly enforced.”

– Gov. Jay Inslee’s Construction Working Group

The requirements set out to ensure COVID-19 safety on the job site can be read in full here. They cover, in detail, the following:

  • COVID-19 Site Supervisor
  • COVID-19 Safety Training
  • Social Distancing
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Employer Provided
  • Sanitation and Cleanliness
  • Employee Health/Symptoms
  • Job Site Visitors
AGC’s Training Video Covers This and More

AGC has made it’s training video on COVID-19 safety on the job site available for the public. The information is quite complete and conveys the responsibilities of both the employers and workers in adhering to the requirements.

Safety Complaints and Violation Reporting

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) is responsible for workplace safety and health, including inspections and enforcement, consultation, technical assistance, training, education and grants.

Workplace safety and health complaints may be submitted to the L&I Call Center: (1-800-423-7233) or via e- mail to adag235@lni.wa.gov. All other violations related to Proclamation 20-25 can be submitted via at: https://bit.ly/covid-compliance.

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Worker Memorial Day Celebration Canceled

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has observed Worker Memorial Day since 1990 and, in 1993, began conducting a special ceremony to mark the day.

Washington State’s Worker Memorial Day service was canceled this year due to the Coronavirus outbreak. It is a solemn ceremony where the names of workers in Washington that lost their lives are shared with a bell tolled for each life lost. It is an annual tradition of importance. I wish it could have been arranged as a remote event.

You can read the history of Worker Memorial Day in Washington state, including information about the bell created by artist Tom Torrens, which has been used in the ceremony since 2007, here. Past events are also available for viewing. Below is the 2019 event.

The notice of cancellation from the Department of Labor and Industries (DLI) is below:

Remembering workers who sacrificed their lives

DLI encourages moment of silence for lost workers and those on the front lines

Now more than ever, the safety and health of workers is top of mind here and around the world. The week of April 28 is traditionally when Worker Memorial Day is commemorated in Washington state.

This year’s in-person events at the Department of Labor and Industries and around the state have been cancelled because of the pandemic and the need for social distancing, but those lost to workplace injuries and illness must not be forgotten.

DLI honors and remembers each worker who died in connection with their job in 2019, and shares heartfelt condolences with their family and friends.

Fifty-five workers died in 2019 as a result of work-related incidents, and 43 passed away last year after long battles with occupational illnesses. The names of all 98 workers honored by DLI this year are available on DLI’s website.

“Worker Memorial Day is about remembering those we have lost, and the unbearable cost to families when people die in connection with their jobs. It’s also a time for all of us to recommit to doing everything possible at work to keep ourselves and our coworkers safe from harm. There is always more to do,” said DLI Director Joel Sacks.

“We had no choice but to cancel this year’s ceremony,” Sacks added, “but it doesn’t diminish the importance of remembering fallen workers and continuing our efforts to reduce to zero the number of people who die in connection with their job.”

Motor vehicle crashes, workplace violence and occupational illness 

Motor vehicle crashes continued to be a serious hazard for Washington workers, claiming 24 lives in 2019. There were fewer fatalities from falls in 2019, but sadly, workplace violence claimed 13 lives. Nearly half of workplace fatalities were associated with occupational illnesses such as cancer and mesothelioma.

These workers were men and women ranging in age from 17 to 94. They were store owners, millwrights, crane workers, medical technicians, retail clerks, truck drivers, and much more. They were moms, dads, brothers, sisters and cherished friends who meant much more than their occupations to their families and communities.

DLI encourages moment of silence for fallen workers and those on the job

“I encourage everyone to take a moment of silence sometime this week to remember the workers who were lost in 2019, and in support of all of the workers on the front lines of the pandemic providing much needed health care, goods and services during this challenging time,” Sacks said. 

Adding to the sadness of each life lost at work is the knowledge that every one of these incidents was preventable. Worker Memorial Day stands as a reminder that these were human lives lost, and that the work to prevent future workplace deaths is vital.

Prior Related Posts:

Updated Guidance for SSI, VA Recipients – Stimulus Payments

IRS has issued updated guidance for SSI and VA benefit recipients with dependents. If no tax return was filed in 2018 or 2019 and you have qualifying dependents, you must submit additional information using the IRS portal by May 5th to receive the dependent portion of your stimulus payment. Read on for the details.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued updated guidance for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs Benefits recipients with qualifying dependents eligible for COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments. If you receive SSI or VA benefits, have qualifying children under 17 and didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019, use the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info tool to register to have $500 per child added to your $1,200 Economic Impact Payment.


Add Dependent Information by May 5th

SSI and VA benefit recipients who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and who have qualifying dependents must submit additional information using the IRS’s Non-Filer tool by Tuesday, May 5, 2020 to receive the full amount of their Economic Impact Payments as soon as possible. ACT NOW to obtain the full federal stimulus payment you and your family are entitled to receive.

Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info – The Portal

You will need to create an account to log into the portal. The fillable form is provided and managed by Intuit – makers of TurboTax, QuickBooks and Mint – and is free to use.

Eligible recipients will start receiving their automatic payments directly from the Treasury Department in early May. Please note that Direct Express account holders may use the IRS’s Non-Filer tool, but they cannot receive their and their children’s payment on their Direct Express card. They may only enter non-Direct Express bank account information for direct deposit, or leave bank information empty to receive a paper check by mail.

Share this Information – Pending Deadline

I encourage you to share this information with any other interested parties. Tell them to act now to receive all their Economic Impact Payment money. The deadline for adding dependents to your stimulus payment is Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

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27,000 Boeing Workers Return to Work

Approximately 27,000 Boeing workers return to work this week. Those that can perform their work from home will continue to telecommute. Boeing’s press release is excerpted, below. Read the full release, here.

Boeing Workers Return to Work

Boeing has taken steps to resume all Commercial Airplanes production in a phased approach at its Puget Sound-region facilities this week, after suspending operations last month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At all of its sites, the company has taken extra precautions and instituted comprehensive procedures to keep people safe and fight the spread of COVID-19. 

Approximately 27,000 people in the Puget Sound area will return to production of the 747, 767, 777 and 787 programs, supporting critical global transportation infrastructure, cargo services and national defense and security missions. The 737 program will resume working toward restarting production of the 737 MAX. Boeing South Carolina remains in a suspension of operations at this time. Earlier this week Boeing restarted mostly defense production operations in the region with approximately 2,500 people.

The company’s practices reinforce enhanced cleaning, employee health and physical distancing in partnership with employees. Aligned with federal and state guidance, these practices include:

  • Staggered shift start times to reduce the flow of employees arriving and departing work 
  • Visual controls such as floor markings and signage to create physical distance 
  • Face coverings will be a requirement for employees at Boeing sites in Washington. Employees are strongly encouraged to bring in their own procedural mask or face covering; those who do not have a mask available will be provided with one. 
  • Providing required personal protective equipment to employees working in areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained for an extended period 
  • Asking employees to perform self-health checks before coming to work and to stay home if they are ill 
  • Employee wellness checks at the beginning of every shift and voluntary temperature screening at many manufacturing locations 
  • Contact tracing when an employee tests positive for COVID-19 to reduce risk to teammates 
  • Continued virtual meetings and employees who can work from home will continue to do 
  • Transportation and common areas adjusted for physical distancing 
  • Hand-washing stations in high-traffic areas and additional cleaning supplies available

Enhanced measures will continue until conditions allow for a return to regular work and cleaning processes. Boeing will continue to monitor government guidance on COVID-19, assess impact on company operations and adjust plans as the situation evolves.

Governor Inslee Asked About Boeing Return to Work

During his April 16th press briefing, Governor Inslee was asked about his “reactions to Boeing announcing it will restart commercial airplane production, and whether you gave them the green light to do so,…”

The Governor responded, referring to Stan Deal, Executive Vice President of Boeing, saying:

“…I didn’t have a chance to talk to him about this specifically, but we have talked about this prospect in the past, and I am glad that the Boeing company is committing to very robust social distancing protocols, and use of PPE. We will try to get more details about that to make sure that those plans are adequate to the safety of Boeing employees, which obviously is a paramount concern of ours. I will be talking to Mr. Deal. Our departments will look at their plans to guarantee safety of our employees and hopefully they’re going to pass muster.“

Boeing Return to Work an Experiment

Suddenly releasing 27,000+ employees to return to work in plants across the Puget Sound region will be an experiment to determine the effect of a phased reopening of the State. Governor Inslee has referred to a gradual reopening – “turning up a dial rather than flipping a switch” – while watching the data for any adverse changes.

Although it is not clear if Governor Inslee had input on the decision to reopen Boeing plants to workers, it is clear that the dial has been turned, a bit, this week.

Prior Post on Related Topic

DLI NEWS: COVID-19 FAQS FROM EMPLOYERS

Guidance to Help Grocery Stores Keep Workers Safe During Pandemic

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has issued specific guidance to help grocery stores and the retail industry to go along with previously released general guidance for workplaces.

While many workers in Washington are hunkering down in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order to fight the coronavirus (COVID-19), thousands of essential workers are still on the job. Workers in grocery stores and at other essential businesses are facing exposure so everyone else can purchase food and supplies, and get other essential services.

Protecting grocery workers from coronavirus

The L&I guidance requires stores to have a social distancing plan, ensure frequent hand washing, and provide basic education to staff about how to prevent the spread of coronavirus. To protect workers, L&I strongly recommends steps like installing hand sanitizer dispensers for customers, ensuring people handling money and retrieving carts are wearing gloves, and marking on the floor and enforcing six-foot increments at checkout stands.

“Grocery and retail workers are there so the rest of us can have access to important goods and supplies,” said Anne Soiza, assistant director in charge of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH). “We have to do everything in our power to keep them as safe as possible, and we ask customers to help keep them safe by practicing sensible social distancing habits when shopping.”

The L&I guidance also includes specifics for cleaning and sanitizing stores, recommends stocking and deep cleaning while the store is closed, and suggests prohibiting the use of reusable shopping bags.

Guidance for specific industries

Along with the guidance to help grocery stores and retail workers, L&I has issued guidance for janitorial workers, the trucking industry, long-term care workers, and the construction industry. All are available on the L&I Division of Occupational Safety and Health coronavirus webpage. The agency is consulting with advocates for agricultural workers and the farming industry on agricultural guidance and expects to release it soon.

The nature of the outbreak changes daily and it’s important for the public and employers to stay on top of the most current information. L&I has launched a COVID-19 webpage with links to helpful information and resources. The department also recommends the federal OSHA workplace guidance to help employers prepare and deal with the outbreak.

The state coronavirus.wa.gov webpage has links to important information and guidance related to the pandemic from numerous state agencies.

Information is the best resource to keep workers and the public as safe as possible. L&I is urging employers to stay as informed as possible, and to take all measures necessary to keep Washington workers safe and healthy.

Prior posts on this topic:

Stimulus Payments and Workers’ Comp

In our prior post, CARES ACT STIMULUS PAYMENTS, Brian Wright explained that there might be a conflict between stimulus payments and workers’ comp claims. The law was not clear if recipients of workers’ comp benefits, which are not taxable income, would be entitled to stimulus payments.

Brian sought clarification of the law from our State’s delegation to the other Washington. They were unsure. He reviewed the IRS documentation. It was unclear. Emergency rules would need to be written and implemented by the IRS to provide clarification.

The IRS has now issued guidance that indicates that workers’ compensation recipients, both of time loss compensation and disability pensions, WILL receive the stimulus funds, providing they meet the other eligibility criteria.

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible to receive a stimulus payment if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien who:

  • Has a valid Social Security number,
  • Could not be claimed as a dependent of another taxpayer, and
  • Had adjusted gross income under certain limits. NOTE: workers’ compensation benefit payments are NOT included in the adjusted gross income figure, as they are not taxable benefits.
Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info – The Portal

The IRS provides an online portal for reporting 2019 income figures for those who were not required to file a return. This would include people whose only income for 2019 was workers’ compensation benefits.

You will need to create an account to log into the portal. The fillable form is provided and managed by Intuit – makers of TurboTax and QuickBooks and Mint – and is free to use.

IRS Portal Link:  
Information You will Need to Provide

Before starting, review the instructions from the IRS and gather the data that will be needed to fill out the form completely:

  • Full name, current mailing address and an email address
  • Date of birth and valid Social Security number
  • Bank account number, type and routing number, if you have one
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) you received from the IRS earlier this year, if you have one
  • Driver’s license or state-issued ID, if you have one
  • For each qualifying child: name, Social Security number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number and their relationship to you or your spouse
Stimulus Payments and Workers’ Comp – How it Works

The instructions are still vague when it comes to stimulus payments and workers’ compensation recipients. If one reads between the lines, with a little prior knowledge, then the portal will work. Here we offer our tips for completing the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info forms correctly.

You May NOT be Required to Provide Information Through the Portal

Most eligible U.S. taxpayers will automatically receive their Economic Impact Payments, including:

  • Individuals who filed a federal income tax for 2018 or 2019
  • Individuals who receive Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI), or survivor benefits. NOTE: if you receive combined benefits under workers’ compensation and Social Security, you do NOT need to use the portal.
  • Individuals who receive Railroad Retirement benefits
Who SHOULD Provide Information Through the Portal

Eligible U.S. citizens or permanent residents who:

  • Had gross income that did not exceed $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples) for 2019. NOTE: this refers to TAXABLE income. Your workers’ compensation benefits may exceed this total. You should continue with providing your information.
  • Were not otherwise required to file a federal income tax return for 2019, and didn’t plan to. NOTE: this means you, if workers’ compensation payments were your primary source of income.
Have Questions? We Can Help

We are here as a resource for injured and disabled workers. For current clients, please contact your attorney/paralegal team for assistance with the portal. For all others, feel free to contact us by phone or email with your questions. We will do our best to provide answers.

DLI News: COVID-19 FAQs from Employers

The Department of Labor & Industries (DLI) has responded to COVID-19 FAQs from employers. In a news statement, below, DLI outlines policy decisions made to provide direction and relief for state fund employers under the workers’ compensation system.

The referenced COVID-19 FAQs are, primarily, related to employers who participate in the Retrospective Rating, or RETRO, program. This is a complex system based on a simple premise. Retro employers pay premiums into the workers’ compensation fund each year, but are then audited to determine actual claim costs. If their costs are higher than premiums paid, then an additional payment for the difference must be made. Or, if the claim costs are lower than the premiums paid, they receive a refund of a portion of their premium payments.

This program is intended to incentivize safer workplaces. The claim costs from allowed Coronavirus cases could prove quite harmful to many employers. The policy updates from DLI address this concern.

DLI Notice of COVID-19 Policy Decisions

In response to questions from employers and their representatives, the Department of Labor & Industries has made certain policy decisions to provide some financial relief to state fund employers from the impact of allowed COVID-19 claims. These decisions are outlined in the “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) below. We also want you to be aware of premium reporting requirements under certain circumstances such as when a business has been closed as a result of the pandemic, yet the employer is continuing to pay their workers. And we’ve clarified that injured workers whose temporary light duty ends are entitled to time-loss compensation. If you have any questions please contact your account manager or retrospective rating representative.

Common COVID-19 FAQs from Employers

Will coronavirus (COVID-19) claims impact an employer’s experience modification factor and claim-free discount (if applicable)?

No. All losses for allowed coronavirus claims, regardless of whether the virus is contracted, will not be included in the determination of an employer’s experience modification factor. An employer will not lose their claim free discount as a result of an allowed coronavirus claim.

What will the impact to retrospective rating calculations be for losses from coronavirus claims?

It’s important that the claims included in experience factor calculation, retrospective rating adjustments, and for rating purposes align. Therefore, the losses for allowed coronavirus claims will not be included in the retro adjustment calculations.

If an employer has a worker on temporary light duty and their business is closed due to the pandemic, is the worker eligible for time-loss benefits? Will these losses be included in the employer’s experience factor?

The worker is eligible for time-loss benefits unless the employer chooses to keep them on salary. The law is clear in situations where temporary or transitional light-duty work comes to an end, regardless of the reason it’s ending. The law recognizes that these workers are restricted from being able to perform their regular employment or jobs, other than the light-duty one.

Only losses for allowed coronavirus claims are being removed from the experience factor calculations.

Does an employer need to report hours when their business is closed during the pandemic, or when a worker is continuing to be paid or kept on salary but notactually working?

If an employer continues to pay a worker while their business is closed during a coronavirus quarantine, or to maintain the worker’s salary on an open claim, if the worker is not actually working the hours don’t need to be reported.

  • If you have hourly workers who are continuing to be paid and not working as a result of the pandemic, you are not required to report hours and premium for the time they are not working.
  • If you have salaried workers reporting actual hours worked (hourly method), continue to do so.
  • If you have salaried workers and report 480 hours per quarter (salary method), you may report the actual hours they worked.

Note: regardless of how you report, you are required to keep a record of these non-work hours in your payroll system. Please refer to WAC 296-17-35201 for recordkeeping and retention.

Contact Information for RETRO Employers

If you have further questions regarding reporting, contact your account manager at 360-902-4817.

Retrospective Rating Program 
WA State Department of Labor & Industries 
PO Box 44180 
Olympia, Washington US  98504-4180 
Retro@Lni.wa.gov  
360-902-4851  voice 
360-902-4258  fax 

Prior Posts on Related Topics

Published by Causey Wright