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Sept. 3, 1998

Rule-development conferences set on musculoskeletal disorders

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries will hold seven rule-development conferences in October to begin public discussion of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and their prevention. The conferences, in seven cities, are the first step in identifying issues, concerns and options that need to be considered before L&I develops a proposed workplace rule on MSD prevention.

Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries and illnesses involving soft tissues or bones. They can occur suddenly or develop gradually over time.

Musculoskeletal disorders involving backs and arms accounted for 36 percent of L&I's workers' compensation claims between 1989 and 1996 and cost $2.7 billion, according to an L&I study released in January. The MSDs kept employees off work 24 million days during the eight years studied. The lost work time had the same effect as removing 12,250 employees from the workforce each year.

"We must do more to prevent these costly injuries and illnesses. They represent a huge toll of pain, suffering and lost productivity," said Gary Moore, director of Labor & Industries. "We need everyone's help to draft a fair and effective rule for Washington's workers and employers."

The rule-development conferences and their dates, times and locations are:

Date City Location Time
Tuesday
October 13
Everett San Juan Room
Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel
3105 Pine
7 p.m.
(6:30 p.m. open house)
Thursday
October 15
Seattle Room 1110
Seattle Central Community College
1701 Broadway (& Pine)
7 p.m.
(6:30 p.m. open house)
Monday
October 19
Tumwater Auditorium
Labor & Industries
7273 Linderson Way SW
7 p.m.
(6:30 p.m. open house)
Tuesday
October 20
Vancouver Community Room
Clark Public Utility District
1200 Ft. Vancouver Way
7 p.m.
(6:30 p.m. open house)
Thursday
October 22
Yakima East Ballroom
Cavanaugh's
607 E. Yakima Avenue
7 p.m.
(6:30 p.m. open house)
Tuesday
October 27
Tacoma Cedar Room
LaQuinta Inn
1425 E. 27th
1:30 p.m.
(1 p.m. open house)
Thursday
October 29
Spokane Int'l AG Trade Center - Bay 2
Spokane Convention Center
W. 334 Spokane Falls Blvd.
7 p.m.
(6:30 p.m. open house)

At the conferences, L&I staff will provide a brief overview of the MSD issue, but most of the two to three hours will be spent listening to and collecting participants' comments, Moore said. L&I ergonomists will be available a half hour before the conferences to provide educational materials and answer questions.

Next year, L&I will convene an advisory committee of business and labor representatives and health professionals to review the information gathered from the public and provide advice to guide L&I's rule-drafting process.

For more information about the conferences, call L&I at 360-902-5450.

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