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March 28, 2001

Ergonomics blue ribbon panel to meet April 3

TUMWATER - The first meeting of the state's Blue Ribbon Panel on Ergonomics will be held from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., April 3, at the SeaTac Marriott Hotel, 3201 S. 176th St. in SeaTac.

The panel will review efforts by the Department of Labor & Industries to implement the state's ergonomics rule adopted last May. The rule requires employers to protect their employees from work-related injuries such as back strain, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. The requirements will be phased in over six years, beginning July 1, 2002.

"More than 50,000 workers suffer these injuries every year and the claims costs alone exceed $411 million," said L&I Director Gary Moore. "Washington's ergonomics rule provides needed protection for workers and offers employers the assistance and flexibility they need to meet their obligations successfully."

The panel will assess whether the rule requirements are understandable and the proposed enforcement policies are fair and consistent. Moore said L&I will not enforce the rule before determining that effective educational materials are widely available and demonstration projects are successful.

The co-chairs are Claude Golden, attorney and regulatory/legislative analyst, Environmental Affairs Office, The Boeing Co., and Larry Bindner, assistant business manager, Washington and Northern Idaho District Council of Laborers.

L&I appointed the 11-member panel at Gov. Gary Locke's direction. The panelists include nationally recognized experts from business, labor, medicine, education and law.

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