Action Alert—Tell Your State Senator to Oppose Ergonomics Threat

Date: February 22, 2022

House Bill 1837 is a clear and present danger to small businesses

NFIB is calling on small-business owners to make their voices heard — loudly – with their state senators on House Bill 1837, which, in a blatant disregard for the will of the people would repeal Initiative 841 that put a stop to the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) ergonomics rule.

Act Now. Act Here.

After barely passing the House, HB 1837 is now in the Senate.

House Bill 1837 would allow L&I to once again issue rules arbitrarily limiting activities workers could do during a shift. For instance, they could restrict the amount of time a worker swings a hammer or uses a power tool, lifts or moves materials, or does certain office duties requiring repetitive motion during the workday.

The last time L&I had this authority, they issued complex regulations with an estimated compliance cost of more than $750 million. With inflation alone, those rules would cost employers nearly $1.2 billion today.

It’s tough for many small businesses to find enough workers as it is. Arbitrarily limiting the activities employees can perform during the workday would make it that much harder to fill orders, meet customer needs, and maintain appropriate staffing levels.

We need you to tell senators how these types of restrictions would harm your business, and unreasonably limit your employees’ ability to do their job.

Contact the senate committee directly.

  • Use this link to sign in “con” on the bill.
  • Select “Senate Labor, Commerce & Tribal Affairs Committee,” and “02/23/22 10:30 AM” from the drop-down menus.
  • Then select the button next to “EHB 1837 Musculoskeletal injuries.”
  • Click the link for “I would like my position noted for the legislative record.”
  • Choose “Con” for the position.
  • Fill in the required contact information.
  • Confirm you’re not a robot, then click the “Submit Registration” button.
  • Contact your state senator and urge them to vote NO.

NFIB and other business groups were forced to sue, and run an initiative campaign, to stop L&I’s job-killing ergonomics rule 20 years ago. What was a terrible idea two decades ago is just as bad today – if not worse.

Senators need to understand how this HB 1837, and L&I rules, would impact your business and its employees. Ergonomics rules try to prevent or reduce musculoskeletal disorders and injuries that might be caused by repetitive motion. Some examples of L&I’s previous ergonomics restrictions affected things like:

  • Working with hands above the head
  • Bending the wrist, neck, or back at certain angles
  • Squatting and lifting
  • The use of hand or power tools for certain periods of time
  • Sitting, twisting, or turning.

Most, if not all, of these activities have been made safer over the last 20 years by design improvements and changes to tools and equipment you provide for your workers.

If certain employers or sectors are having problems with repetitive motion injuries, L&I has the training, grant programs, and other educational resources available. If some of those employers aren’t following best practices, and creating workplace hazards, L&I already has the power to issue substantial penalties and demand corrections.

Tailoring a workspace or workflow to the particular needs of each worker can be a worthwhile goal but doesn’t easily lend itself to one-size-fits-all agency rules.

And, in today’s remote work environment, it would be terribly intrusive for employers to dictate how and what workers do in the privacy of their own homes, even when “on the job.” It would be all but impossible for employers to effectively monitor worker compliance and enforce a new ergonomics rule in work-from-home settings.

Please explain to your state Senator how limitations on “repetitive” motions, or additional restrictions on lifting, carrying, standing, sitting, reaching, tool or equipment use, etc. just don’t make sense given the advancements and improvements in how you and your employees do business today.

Repealing I-841 simply isn’t necessary. Tell your story and oppose HB 1837.

Small business needs more help recovering from losses caused by the pandemic. We simply can’t afford another billion-dollar regulation-making our jobs even harder.

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