Ergonomics invoice again on the desk in Washington state

Olympia, WA — Washington state legislators are as soon as once more contemplating a bill geared toward lowering employees’ threat of musculoskeletal disorders.

Lawmakers and proponents/opponents of the laws mentioned the invoice throughout a March 14 hearing earlier than the state’s Home Labor and Office Requirements Committee.

The Home handed an ergonomics bill in February 2022, however the Senate didn’t comply with swimsuit earlier than the legislative session ended. Throughout this present legislative session, the Senate handed S.B. 5217 on March 1. 

In 2003, a voter initiative repealed ergonomics requirements put in force by the Washington State Division of Labor & Industries three years earlier. A part of the brand new invoice would repeal the statutes stopping L&I from adopting guidelines on ergonomics. The invoice would apply to industries or threat classifications which have an MSD employees’ compensation claims price not less than two occasions larger than the state’s total common – for 5 consecutive years. Throughout the five-year interval earlier than falling underneath the regulation, the business or threat classification concerned would have sources to assist, akin to entry to ergonomists, invoice sponsor Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) stated on the listening to.

Dhingra famous that the invoice features a provision for an advisory committee made up of companies and employees.

“What I like about this invoice and the way in which it turned out is there’s a shared worth right here,” she stated. “Employees need to be protected and our companies need to present a protected working house. That could be a shared worth all of us have – we would like everybody to be protected.”

Those that spoke in opposition of the invoice famous a downward pattern in ergonomics claims. David Bonauto of Washington L&I’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention program acknowledged the downward pattern, however stated MSDs nonetheless account for about 33% of whole employees’ comp claims within the state. 

He stated these claims go “past medical solely” and normally contain wage substitute or continual incapacity funds as nicely, that means the individual is out of labor.

Bonauto added that SHARP’s analysis used a conservative definition that doubtless underestimates the true burden of MSDs on the state’s employees’ comp system. For instance, the analysis didn’t embody hernias, which might add one other 5%, and didn’t embody MSDs found after a medical analysis for a distinct harm.

Bonauto additionally advised that the downward pattern could possibly be partly a results of a regulation promulgated 20 years earlier and later repealed. The regulation was geared toward serving to employers establish duties that had been creating MSD dangers and introduced MSDs extra into the highlight.

“It triggered a major power in employers to establish hazards and implement controls,” Bonauto stated. “It actually tells you that the impression of regulation really can set off motion past what is common in employer security and well being applications.”


Leave a Reply