Lawmakers in Washington state will soon introduce legislation that would allow state regulators to better address workplace musculoskeletal injuries, a common cause of workers’ compensation claims.
Senate Bill 5217, which will be formally filed Jan. 24, would lift a current ban that prevents the state Department of Labor and Industry from adopting regulations designed to prevent workplace musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses.
The legislation aims to restore the state’s “ability to more strategically address important workplace safety issues and reduce costs for all employers and workers,” the bill reads.
Sponsors of the measure say the lack of state authority to regulate practices to prevent musculoskeletal injuries has contributed to avoidable and excessive claims and costs in the workers̵7; compensation system for all employers nationwide.
According to the bill, work-related musculoskeletal injuries make up at least a third of all compensation claims, which leads to lost time and wages.
Musculoskeletal disorders are also a common cause of long-term disability in the state.
The bill states that many of the state’s critical industries, such as health care, are considered to be at high risk of musculoskeletal injuries, and those same industries are currently experiencing severe staffing shortages, resulting in higher costs for employers in absenteeism, reduced productivity and workers’ compensation claims . .
Under the bill, the Department of Labor and Industries would not be allowed to adopt more than one set of regulations designed to prevent musculoskeletal injuries in a 12-month period for industries and risk classes that did not previously have such regulations.