In 2000, the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) adopted specific workplace ergonomics regulations requiring employers to reduce worker exposure to specific workplace hazards that cause or contribute to work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
Initiative 841, passed by the voters in 2003, repealed the existing ergonomics regulations. The initiative also prohibited L&I from adopting similar regulations or otherwise regulating working practices to prevent musculoskeletal disorders, until and to the extent required by the federal government.
L&I retains general authority to enforce against ergonomic-related workplace hazards under the general duty clause of the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA), which requires employers to furnish employees with a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause serious injury or death to the employees.
The law repealing the ergonomics regulations and the restrictions on the adoption of new or amended rules dealing with musculoskeletal disorders, or that deal with the same or similar activities as the repealed state ergonomics regulations under WISHA are repealed.
L&I may adopt rules related to preventing musculoskeletal injuries and disorders that provide standards for an industry or risk class, subject to the following:
L&I may provide funding to employers to purchase additional equipment that may be needed to comply with these newly adopted rules. The maximum amount of funding each year is 2 percent of the premiums paid into the accident fund in the prior year from the risk classes that include employers subject to an adopted rule. Only employers who pay premiums to the state fund and are subject to a rule adopted under this act are eligible for funding.
Definitions of industry and risk classification are included. Legislative findings are made.