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January 30, 2003

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L&I's Ergonomics Ideas Bank debuts

TUMWATER - The Washington Department of Labor & 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, awkward postures, high hand force, repetitive motion, 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.

The bank is located at www.LNI.wa.gov/wisha/ergoideas/. Users can search by type of risk factor, industry or key word. To contribute an idea, fill out the online form at www.LNI.wa.gov/wisha/forms/ergoideassubmitform.htm.

L&I does not endorse any commercial products in the ideas bank or guarantee that the ideas will eliminate any particular hazard under Washington state's ergonomics rule.

"We encourage employers and employees to work together to find ideas that are effective in reducing hazards that are specific to their workplace," Silverstein said.

Washington state's ergonomics rule 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 2007.

Questions about the bank, other ergonomics services from L&I, or the state's ergonomics rule may be e-mailed to ergonomics@LNI.wa.gov or call 1-800-4BE-SAFE.

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For media information, contact: 
Cheryl Moore, L&I, 360-902-5414, chem235@lni.wa.gov

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