Washington State Builders Push For Ergonomics Repeal

August 8, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A Washington state homebuilders association has submitted signatures in an effort to repeal the state's sweeping workplace-ergonomics rules.

Calling the regulations “an unnecessary job-killer” the Building Industry Association of Washington turned in to Olympia lawmakers 258,411 signatures to abolish the act. With only 197,734 signatures required to get the repeal measure on a November ballot, the measure is practically certain to meet that minimum after invalid names are thrown out, state officials said, according to an Associated Press report.

The ballot initiative would immediately repeal ergonomics rules issued by the Department of Labor and Industries in 2000 in a bid to reduce worker injuries caused by repetitive motion, heavy lifting and awkward working positions. The rules never took effect, pending a court challenge.

Labor unions and state officials, including Democratic Governor Gary Locke, touted the regulations as a way to avoid thousands of painful injuries as well as millions of dollars in lost wages and productivity. However, the builders’ association labeled the policy too expensive and spent more than $350,000 – nearly all for signature gathering – to back the repeal effort.