Washington's Ergonomics Ideas Bank Debuts

Making a withdrawal from this bank won't break your budget. In fact, it might even save your employer some money.

The Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has launched the Ergonomics Ideas Bank, a searchable collection of ideas for preventing workplace injuries and improving job safety and health.

The Web-based "bank" contains ideas for reducing heavy lifting, eliminating awkward postures, reduing high hand force, limiting repetitive motion, reducing vibration and other workplace risk factors. These risk factors can lead to work-related musculoskeletal injuries, including back strain, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. One-third of accepted industrial insurance claims involve these injuries.

"Musculoskeletal injuries can be costly. I think many employers will be surprised by the number of simple and inexpensive ideas available to prevent these injuries," said Michael Silverstein, L&I's assistant director for workplace safety and health.

The Ergonomics Ideas Bank gives employers access to ideas that other employers already use. Many were collected from companies with existing ergonomics programs, as well as from employers who participated in L&I-sponsored demonstration projects.

Even if your facility is not located in Washington, you can utilize the idea bank. It is located at www.LNI.wa.gov/wisha/ergoideas. Users can search by type of risk factor, industry or key word.

The idea bank is an effort to "encourage employers and employees to work together to find ideas that are effective in reducing hazards that are specific to their workplace," Silverstein added.

Washington has a state ergonomics rule that requires employers to protect their employees from hazards that lead to musculoskeletal injuries. The rule took effect July 1, 2002, for approximately 600 large companies in industries with the highest risk of musculoskeletal injuries. Inspections for these employers will not begin until July 2004. For most small businesses in the state, inspections will not begin until July 2008.

Questions about the bank, other ergonomics services from L&I, or the state's ergonomics rule may be e-mailed to [email protected], or call 1-800-4BE-SAFE.

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