Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave has Arrived

Washington Employment Security Department has been working hard to build the entire Paid Family and Medical Leave program from the ground up, and as of January 1st the program has officially begun!

Employers from every corner of Washington are ready for Paid Family and Medical Leave – and the work is just getting started. ESD is continuing to build the program and get the word out to Washington employers and employees about this great new program.

WA employers on why paid leave is good business

Washington employers talk about why Paid Family and Medical Leave is good for their business

 

Here are a few samples of Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave in the news:

Seattle Times: Workers start paying for Washington’s new paid-leave law next month. Here’s how it works. 

KOMO: Wash. to implement best paid family & medical leave in America in 2019

AP: Premiums for new paid family program start next week

Walla Walla Union-Bulletin (Op-Ed): Washington families will benefit from state’s paid leave  

www.paidleave.wa.gov

Washington Minimum Wage Climbs to $12 in 2019

Initiative 1433, approved by Washington voters in 2016, requires a statewide minimum wage of $11.00 in 2017, $11.50 in 2018, $12.00 in 2019, and $13.50 in 2020. The minimum wage in Washington will increase to $12 per hour starting Jan. 1, 2019, for workers age 16 and older.

The cities of SeaTac, Seattle, and Tacoma have their own minimum wage rates. SeaTac’s minimum wage rate is $16.09 per hour in 2019. In Seattle, small employers (with 500 or fewer employees) must pay at least $15.00 per hour. The Tacoma minimum wage is $12.35.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Washington was one of 19 states raising the minimum wages on January 1, meaning wage increases for more than 5 million Americans. An estimated 337,100 workers in Washington got a raise. Thanks to all the workers in Seatac, Seattle, Tacoma and across the state who fought for and won these raises to the minimum wage!

For more information on the minimum wage or your other rights on the job, check out www.fairworkcenter.org.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) enforces the state’s wage-and-hour laws, which includes the minimum wage. The state minimum wage applies to most jobs, including those in agriculture.

Under state law, tips do not count toward a worker’s minimum wage. Also, employers can pay workers under 16 years old 85 percent of the minimum wage. For 2019, that comes out to $10.20 per hour.

When Initiative 1433 passed in the fall of 2016, it set a schedule for Washington’s minimum wage over a four-year period. As a result, in 2020 the state minimum wage will climb to $13.50. For the following year, L&I will calculate the minimum wage by using a formula tied to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

Complete information about the minimum wage is available on L&I’s website (Lni.wa.gov), including details about handling overtime, rest breaks and meals. There’s also a minimum wage announcement online that employers can print off and post.

L&I investigates all wage-payment complaints. More information about wage and hour laws and workplace rights is available on L&I’s webpage. Employers and workers may also call 360-902-5316 or 1-866-219-7321.

Photo by Urban Isthmus on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

What is talc, and why is asbestos relevant?

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from www.nytimes.com

Some products currently containing talc among their listed ingredients. Jens Mortensen for The New York Times

Nearly 12,000 women have sued Johnson & Johnson, with most claiming the talc in its well-known product Johnson’s Baby Powder caused their ovarian cancer. They now have a new potential legal front.

In a recent case, a group of plaintiffs argued that the talc was contaminated with asbestos, a carcinogen considered unsafe at any level of exposure. A jury agreed with them, and awarded them $4.69 billion in damages in July.

The carcinogen has been a concern inside the company for decades. In hundreds of pages of memos reviewed by The New York Times, executives worried about a potential government ban of talc, the safety of the product and a public backlash over Johnson’s Baby Powder, a brand built on a reputation for trustworthiness and health.

What is talc, and why is asbestos relevant?

Talc is a mineral in clay mined from underground deposits. It’s the softest mineral known to man and that makes it useful in a wide range of consumer and industrial products.

Asbestos is also found underground, and veins of it can often be found in talc deposits, leading to a risk of cross-contamination, geologists say.

Are any other consumer products made with talc?

Talc is used in many cosmetics: lipstick, mascara, face powder, blush, eye shadow, foundation and even children’s makeup. In the list of ingredients, it can be listed as talc, talcum or talcum…

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Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

How Freaked Out Should We Be by the Possibility That There Was Asbestos in Baby Powder?

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from slate.com

It's a bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby powder
It’s a bottle of Johnson & Johnson baby powder

Recent blockbuster investigations from Reuters and the New York Times allege that for decades, there was asbestos lurking in bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder, that the company knew about it, and that it did not share that information with the public. It sounds terrible: A cover-up, a mineral that can cause cancer after even tiny amounts of exposure, and a contaminated product that is marketed for use on infants. And it is terrible. But none of the reports answered the fundamental question for consumers: If you’ve used Johnson & Johnson baby powder on yourself or your children, just how scared should you be?

Over the last six days, I talked to two experts in the fields of environmental and occupational health, and consulted a slew of papers and fact sheets from independent sources. And while they all agree that the news reports are concerning, the topline takeaway is that individual consumers don’t have to worry as much as the terrifying word salad of “asbestos baby powder” would suggest.

Let’s back up. The Reuters investigation is pegged to the story of Darlene Coker, who sued Johnson & Johnson in 1997, and alleged that the company’s baby powder had given her a rare form of cancer, mesothelioma, which is closely linked to asbestos. Coker lost her case due to a lack of evidence to support the claim that the company’s baby powder contained any amount of the…

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Washington One of the Top States for Workplace Safety

Washington remains one of the best states for workplace safety and health according to a report from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. For 2017 our state had the ninth lowest fatal occupational injury rate in the nation.

According to the report, there were 84 workplace deaths in Washington in 2017, which comes out to 2.5 deaths per every 100,000 fulltime workers. That’s a slight increase from 2016 when Washington’s rate was 2.4 per 100,000.

“Every workplace death is tragic. Employers, workers and the state must continue to work together and learn from each serious injury and death, so we can continue to improve Washington’s workplace safety culture,” said Anne Soiza, L&I Assistant Director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “This report shows we’re on the right track, but there’s always more to do to keep workers safe and healthy. We all need to continue our focus on preventing falls and the disturbing rise of workplace violence.”

As part of the state’s focus on prevention L&I partners with industry and labor on campaigns, provides free onsite consultations to public and private employers to help them find and fix workplace safety and health hazards. The agency also works closely with high-risk industries to alert them to dangerous work situations and activities so they can prevent them.

Washington’s workplace fatality rate is 30 percent below the national average. The numbers vary from year to year, but Washington consistently demonstrates one of the lowest fatal occupational injury rates in the country.

Construction is always one of the most dangerous occupations here and nationally. Washington had 15 construction fatalities in 2017, one more than in 2016. That’s a rate of 6.2 per 100,000 full-time workers; six other states had a lower rate.

Other industrial sectors that rank high on the national list for dangerous workplaces include the category of farming, fishing and forestry with a rate of 20.9 fatal injuries per 100,000, and transportation with a rate of 15.9. Each of these rates is meaningfully higher than the respective rates in Washington of 11.7 and 5.8 per 100,000 full time workers.

The bureau’s report contains several charts and graphs that break down the data by type of incident, occupation, industry, state, etc. For a more detailed look follow the links on the bureau’s news release.

 

Photo by TranBC on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

OSHA’s Top 10 Violations for 2018 revealed at National Safety Council Congress and Expo

Today’s post comes from guest author Paul J. McAndrew, Jr., from Paul McAndrew Law Firm.

Today’s post comes from our colleagues at WorkersCompensation.com

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced the preliminary Top 10 most frequently cited workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2018. Patrick Kapust, deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs, presented the Top 10 on the Expo floor as part of the 2018 NSC Congress and Expo, the world’s largest annual gathering of safety professionals.

While the rankings for OSHA’s Top 10 most cited violations vary little from year to year, violation No. 10 on this year’s list, “Eye and Face Protection” (1926.102), was not on the 2017 list.

“Knowing how workers are hurt can go a long way toward keeping them safe,” said National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The OSHA Top 10 list calls out areas that require increased vigilance to ensure everyone goes home safely each day.”

The Top 10 for FY 2018* are:

1. Fall Protection – General Requirements (1926.501)

7,270

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200)

4,552

3. Scaffolding (1926.451)

3,336

4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134)

3,118

5. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147)

2,944

6. Ladders (1926.1053)

2,812

7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178)

2,294

8. Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503)

1,982

9. Machine Guarding (1910.212)

1,972

10. Eye and Face Protection (1926.102)

1,536

A more in-depth look at the Top 10 violations for 2018 will be published in the December edition of the Council’s Safety+Health magazine.

*Preliminary figures as of Oct. 1, 2018

About the National Safety Council
The National Safety Council (nsc.org) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy. Founded in 1913 and chartered by Congress, NSC advances this mission by partnering with businesses, government agencies, elected officials and the public in areas where we can make the most impact.

Kit Case, Causey Wright's Paralegal & Media Manager

The Workplace is Getting Safer – The Future of Workers’ Compensation

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has confirmed the steady decline in accidents and injuries on the job. They have declined for 14 years. This data mirrors the steady decline of workers’ compensation claims and the change of the US workplace from a manufacturing to service.

The question remains whether this trend will continue going forward given the elimination of US regulations about industrial and environmental pollution. Also, a major factor is that the workplace and the nature of work are changing in a computerized and robotic culture. As machines replace workers, compensation systems become more difficult to navigate, and what constitutes employment status versus independent contractor changes, the entire workers’ compensation system will be challenged to the core.

"There were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017, which occurred at a rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Private industry employers reported nearly 45,800 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases in 2017 compared to a year earlier, according to estimates from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII).

  • The 2017 rate of total recordable cases (TRC) fell 0.1 cases per 100 FTE workers to continue a pattern of declines that, apart from 2012, occurred annually since 2004. (See chart 1.)
  • The rates for different types of cases—days…

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Robots at Sea-Tac Airport

Last year, Sea-Tac airport found a perfect place for a robot to take over a repetitive but necessary task. During a study to figure out ways to speed up the security checkpoint process, one team found that standing in the security lines and encouraging passengers to remove items like belts and laptops early on before they arrived at the checkpoint helped the lines move more quickly. “They were able to measure improvement to the overall security checkpoint process,” says Wilson. “But after a couple of hours our team was pretty exhausted from nonstop talking with passengers.”

The team decided that a robot named Tracy would be the ticket. The robot-controlled sign spoke and provided advice on how to get through security quickly, by removing scarves, belts, and jackets in advance — and “she” did it in six languages and never got tired. Wilson says the experiment yielded a potential gain of 18 percent to 20 percent improvement to the overall security checkpoint process. Plus, he notes, “Tracy was quite a novelty and many passengers, especially children, took selfies with Tracy while waiting in line.”

Tracy, the passenger service robot

Tracy was just a pilot project, but she may be back soon. And if you’re walking through the airport today, you may just stumble across robots doing another job most humans find tedious: cleaning floors. One of Sea-Tac’s vendors, C&W Services, recently set a fleet of six self-driving floor-care machines in action at the airport. Brain Corp. provides the artificial intelligence software that manages and deploys the self-driving machineThe cleaning staff doesn’t need to directly operate the machines, so floor cleaning becomes autonomous. This allows the janitors to multitask and complete other work that requires a human touch while the floors get cleaned.

Floor cleaning robot at Sea-Tac

Read the full release from the Port of Seattle here.

ZymoGenetics to Close Seattle Location

ZymoGenetics, after being purchased by Bristol-Myers Squibb, has been winding down their Seattle presence, first noted when they chose to not renew their lease of the historic Lake Union Steam Plant building in 2016.  ZymoGenefits has now alerted Washington State of their closure of this location effective December 31, 2018.  Sixty three employees will be laid. off as a result of this closure.

Staff from the local rapid response team of the Washington Emplyment Security Department and WorkSource center will perform outreach to employees of the organization to ease the transition.

The Lake Union Steam Plant building is slated to be taken over by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

 

Published by Causey Wright