Sunday, October 22, 2006

Court: Wash state can still enforce existing ergonomics rules

Putting teeth back into ergonomics rules in the workplace ...

"A 2003 initiative that repealed the state's workplace ergonomics rules doesn't mean that the state can't protect workers under existing state law, Washington's Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In an 8-1 ruling, the court said that Initiative 841 only repealed the specific ergonomics rules put forth by the Department of Labor & Industries in 2000, and that prior to those rules, the state addressed ergonomics-related hazards under the general duty clause of Washington's Industrial Safety and Health Act.

"Nothing in I-841 suggests that L&I is stripped of its general regulatory authority to address serious or deadly ergonomics-related workplace hazards" under state law, Justice Tom Chambers, writing for the majority, said in the ruling.

The high court threw out a Pierce County trial court's order quashing L&I's attempt to enforce a subpoena against SuperValu Holdings Inc., a company that distributes groceries and products to independent grocery stores throughout the Northwest. The case was returned to the lower court.

... "It seemed to us, if you read the plain words of the initiative, it repealed the rules, and that's all that it does," said Bill Collins, deputy solicitor general, who argued the case for the state. "And eight of the justices agreed."    (Continued via Seattle PI)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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