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Washington musculoskeletal injury bill heads to governor


A bill that would enable state regulators in Washington to better address musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace is one step away from becoming law.

Washington lawmakers on Friday sent Senate Bill 5217 to the desk of Gov. Jay Inslee, although it was not immediately clear whether the governor would sign or veto the measure.

The bill would repeal a current law that prevents the Department of Labor and Industries from adopting rules meant to better protect workers from musculoskeletal injuries and disorders.

The measure, introduced in January, passed the Senate and the House, but by narrow margins.

Legislators who support the measure say that the absence of the Department of Labor and Industries’ ability to regulate workplace practices designed to prevent musculoskeletal injuries on the job has contributed to “excess and avoidable” workers compensation claims and costs for all employers throughout the state.

The bill states that musculoskeletal injuries and disorders account for at least one-third of all comp claims in Washington and remain a top cause of long-term disability in the state.

Many of the state’s critical industries are affected by musculoskeletal injuries and disorders, including industries that continue to experience significant staffing shortages.

The bill states that repealing the current prohibition on the Department of Labor and Industries would allow regulators to work on targeted safety efforts designed to better prevent these types of workplace injuries.