“I have seven inspectors that are statewide,” said Brian Haight, Region 8 compliance manager for The Department of Occupational Safety and Health, which is part of Washington’s Labor & Industries.
The state relies on 70 state-certified, private inspection companies.
“They have to pass a rigorous set of tests and applications to have a certain level of experience,” he said.
Those private inspectors must sign off on the cranes before assembly, after assembly on-site, and at least once a year, according to Joe Sadler of Exxel Pacific. One of the general contractor’s sites is a new Even Staybridge Hotel by IHG at the corner of Mercer Street and Fairview Avenue in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
Sadler is Exxel Pacific’s safety director.
“The reason we have so many rules and regulations really is typically because at some point in time someone got hurt or worse,” he said.
The turning point was a deadly 2006 crane incident. It killed a man while he was inside his Bellevue apartment next to the construction site.
“It got everyone’s attention to the fact that there weren’t a lot of regulations out there,” said Haight. He said it spurred the state legislature to add regulation to the industry.
Today’s post comes from guest author Tom Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.
Washington similarly allows employers to access all prior claim records, even from other employers, when one of their employees files an injury claim. Workers’ compensation claims already had a lower privacy standard than other types of records – workers’ compensation is excluded from HIPPA protections – but this now allows easy access to all records, relevant or not, once a worker files an injury claim.
Republican legislators are feeling their oats these days. Throughout the Midwest, legislators are depriving workers of collective bargaining rights and trying to restrict workers’ rights in workers’ compensation claims.
In Missouri, workers’ compensation legislation was recently proposed that would have permitted an employer to provide a potential hire’s name and Social Security number so an employer could identify the potential employee’s prior workers’ compensation claims and the status of those claims. The Missouri Division of Workers’ Compensation estimated an online data base that would include over a half million claim records with over 10,000 records added each year.
To his credit, Democratic governor Jay Nixon vetoed this proposed online data base which would allow businesses to check a prospective employee’s workers’ compensation claims. He said it was “an affront to the privacy of our citizens and does not receive my approval.” As expected, supporters of the workers’ compensation data base (employers primarily) said the legislation would speed the hiring process and help bosses and workers. Regularly, information about workers’ compensation claims is available by written request and takes about two weeks to arrive. Supporters of the legislation indicated the law was “preventing workers’ compensation abuses.”
Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation records are subject to Wisconsin public records law, except for records identifying an employee’s name, injury, medical condition, disability, or benefits – which are confidential. Authorized requestors are limited to parties of the claim (the employee, the employer, and the insurance carrier), an authorized attorney or agent, a spouse or adult child of a deceased employee. Workers’ Compensation Division staff may provide limited confidential information regarding the status of claims to a legislator or government official on behalf of a party. In addition, workers’ compensation staff are not permitted by law to conduct a random search to determine if other injuries have been reported.
If the requestor is the same employer or insurance carrier involved in a prior injury, then access will be allowed. If the requestor is a different employer or insurance carrier but they make a reasonable argument that the prior injury and the current injury are related, access may be allowed. For example, the Department considers injuries “reasonably related” if the two injuries involve the same body areas.
Simply put, in Wisconsin, at least for the present, claimant information is confidential and not open to the public, other than to the parties to a current claim.