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Labor and Industries Offers Grants for Creative Return-to-Work Ideas

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is currently looking for workers and employers with an innovative idea for helping injured workers quickly get back on the job following an injury. If you have a creative proposal, L&I wants to hear from you, and plans to offer financial support to help fund the best projects.

A new set of grants have been made approved through the Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP), a program that makes funds available for new projects that develop and apply effective return-to-work policies for injured workers. The goal of these programs is to reduce long-term disability, and even mitigate the impact of permanent partial disability on the State’s workforce.

The funds for return-to-work projects came out of the new budget and workers’ compensation reforms passed by the 2011 Washington Legislature, which were signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire.

Promoting new return-to-work approaches is an essential aspect of the reforms, since research indicates that assisting employees in returning to work after an injury actually leads to a speedier recovery; in addition, it reduces long-term disability and brings down overall workers’ compensation costs.

The goal of return-to-work project grants is to promote new ways of helping injured workers return to the workplace so that businesses and employers can have the processes implemented prior to future injuries Ideally, SHIP grants will encourage new approaches to workplace health and safety, while simultaneously promoting collaboration between labor and management. This will pertain to workers who have a Third Party Injury claim, a workers’ compensation claim, or who need to complete an independent medical exam.

Since the SHIP program was created in 2007, its grants have supplied funds to over 40 separate projects developed by labor and business organizations, workplace safety advocates, and educational institutions working in conjunction with various partner.

For more information or an application packet, visit www.SafetyGrants.Lni.wa.gov or call 360-902-5588.

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Emery Reddy