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Aug. 7, 2000

Ergonomics activities in motion following rule adoption

TUMWATER - Now that the Department of Labor & Industries has an ergonomic rule aimed at preventing hazards that cripple and injure more than 50,000 Washington workers each year, a flurry of activity has resulted on a number of fronts.

Although a limited phase-in for regulatory enforcement won't begin for another two years, Labor & Industries has already started:

  • Working with businesses in the first 12 industries subject to the new rule who are interested in setting up a demonstration project.*
  • Scheduled ergonomics rule awareness presentations to interested employers. The presentations will take place in August and September.
  • Developing educational materials that will enable employers to meet education requirements of the rule. The materials will be available by year's end.*
  • Making arrangements to provide employers with a progress report on implementation of the rule. The first update is scheduled for distribution in October.

In addition, there is extensive information conveniently posted at a site dedicated to ergonomics on L&I's Internet homepage.

This outreach and education effort follows the agency's adoption of the ergonomics rule in May. The landmark rule, one of the first in the nation, is aimed at stopping ergonomic injuries that cripple and injure more than 50,000 Washington workers and cost employers more than $411 million each year.

Under Gov. Gary Locke's direction, the agency will establish a blue-ribbon panel of independent experts to determine that rule requirements are understandable and that proposed enforcement policies are fair and consistent.

Under the rule, employers will be required to find and fix ergonomic hazards in the workplaces. But it is important, according to L&I Director Gary Moore, for employers to understand that this rule will not change the workers' compensation system in any manner. And it won't subject employers to penalties for workers who suffer ergonomic injuries. 

*These points were modified slightly on Aug. 8 after the original release was issued to news media on Aug. 7


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