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June 19, 2003

‘Ergonomics in Action’ award goes to Vancouver lumber company

VANCOUVER, Wash. - Columbia Vista Corp., a lumber-products company along the Columbia River in Vancouver, will receive an “Ergonomics in Action” award from the Department of Labor & Industries.

The award will be presented at 11:30 a.m. July 9 in a ceremony at the plant, 18637 S.E. Evergreen Highway.

Columbia Vista, which employs 65 at four locations in Washington and Oregon, is being recognized by L&I for a number of reasons, including its participation in an industry-wide ergonomics project, involving employees in finding ergonomic solutions, and achieving productivity gains while reducing the risk of injury.

The company also is being lauded for:

  • Eliminating high hand force required at board-grading workstations. This was achieved by installing automatic board turners, which also helped the company control the quality of the grading.
  • Solving problems with heavy lifting by installing a sorting and stacking system, which also eliminated a production bottleneck.

"We were delighted to see the positive results of our investment in improving the ergonomic health of our employees,” said Bob Lewis, Columbia Vista president. “While this is still a very political topic in our industry, it just proved to be a good business decision for our company.”

L&I’s “Ergonomics in Action” award recognizes individuals, employers and organizations that have demonstrated extraordinary commitment, leadership or innovation in preventing work-related musculoskeletal injuries. Each year, those injuries affect more than 50,000 Washington workers. They cost the state’s workers’ compensation system, administered by L&I, more than $411 million a year in medical treatment and partial wage-replacement payments.

The state’s ergonomics rule requires employers to protect their employees from musculoskeletal injuries. The rule took effect July 1, 2002, for approximately 600 large companies in industries with the highest risk of musculoskeletal injuries. The rule will phase in for other employers over the next four years. Enforcement by L&I will be phased in beginning July 1, 2004.

Past “Ergonomics in Action” awards have gone to Precor Inc. of Woodinville, PWPipe of Tacoma, the City of Spokane and Hearth & Home Technologies of Colville.

Radio broadcast version:

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries is presenting its fifth “Ergonomics in Action” award, this time to a Vancouver lumber company.

L&I says Columbia Vista Corporation was chosen because, among other things, it involved its employees in finding ergonomic solutions. One solution, for example, was an automated board-turning apparatus. It eliminated the need for workers to apply high hand force at workstations where they grade boards.

Past recipients of L&I’s award include Precor of Woodinville, PWPipe of Tacoma, the City of Spokane and Hearth & Home Technologies of Colville in Eastern Washington.

L&I says more ergonomics information can be found at www.LNI.wa.gov/wisha/ergo.


For media information: Cheryl Moore, L&I Public Affairs, 360-902-5414 or chem235@LNI.wa.gov.
Columbia Vista contact: Bob Lewis, president, 360-892-0770, ext. 116.

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