News

New law increases enforcement authority

by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette

The Department of Labor & Industries has issued its first “stop work order” against a Sequim contractor.

Selena Davis, communications manager with L&I, said Steven Byers “has a history of contracting infractions.”

 

The “stop work order,” delivered to Steven M. Byers Roofing on Dec. 9, requires Byers to “immediately stop all work and operations at all of your company’s worksites in the state of Washington.”

 

The order further states, “We have determined that you are doing work that requires registration as a contractor, have two workers requiring workers’ compensation coverage and do not have an active workers’s compensation account with L&I.”

 

The order further provided that if Byers disagreed with the order and wanted to resume working, he had 10 days “to furnish cash or bond in the amount of $5,000 as a deposit to insure the two workers we have identified as your employees.”

 

Byers told the Gazette that due to health problems, he hasn’t worked in four years. He then abruptly ended the conversation.

 

The list of violations accompanying the order shows the last-reported violation occurred in 2006.
The list includes 14 violations attributed to Steven M. Byers of Sequim and Steve’s Custom Roofing Inc., Port Angeles, between 1998-2006.

New law expands enforcement

Davis said L&I waited four years to issue the order because the authority to do so was only made available in November 2010. The Sequim order is one of the first issued under a new law recommended by the Underground Economy Task Force and passed by the Washington Legislature in 2009.

 

Davis said that as of Nov. 10, 2010, “any construction firm caught with workers, but no current L&I workers’ compensation account, can be served a Stop Work Order (SWO).”

 

A “stop work order” is a legal notice requiring an employer to stop work immediately and remain stopped until the employer comes into compliance with state requirements.

 

An employer who received a SWO has 10 days to request reconsideration. During reconsideration, an employer may resume work by posting a bond in the amount of $5,000, or $1,000 per worker, whichever is greater.

 

The order may be issued on a specific worksite location, stopping work on that worksite only. It also may be served on an employer, stopping work on all of that employer’s worksites.

 

Failure to comply with a “stop work order” carries a penalty of $1,000 per day.

Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

 

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