Performing the same motion over and over on the job can increase workers’ risk of getting hurt, and now a bill in Olympia aims to protect them with training on better practices.
An initiative from 2003 prohibits the Department of Labor and Industries from putting regulations in place to prevent repetitive-motion injuries. House Bill 1837 would repeal it.
Trudi Hobbs, a school custodian at the Othello School District in southwest Washington and a member of Public School Employees of Washington, has testified in favor of the measure. She said she has sacrificed her health to serve the kids in her district.
“I’ve been an employee in my district since 1993, you know, approaching 30 years,” Hobbs explained. “And I would like to be able to complete my service with my district in fair health, because right now it’s not looking very good.”
Hobbs recounted she has sustained several injuries from work, including a shoulder tear and a knee injury which required surgery. The measure would allow for ergonomic training, so workers learn how to perform physical tasks without hurting themselves. Opponents say the bill would lead to costly and overly burdensome rules for businesses.
Hobbs acknowledged the legislation likely will not affect her, since she could retire soon, but noted it would help workers down the road. She also pointed out custodians and other workers have been essential during the pandemic.
“I just think that we need a little assistance to do our jobs smarter, and there’s got to be some help on the horizon,” Hobbs urged. “And I hope that the House Bill 1837 is part of that answer.”
The bill has garnered support from education and health-care unions like Hobbs’ Public School Employees and Service Employees International Union Healthcare 1948, as well as statewide unions. Opposing groups include the Building Industry Association of Washington and Washington Food Industry Association. The bill is currently in the House Rules Committee.
The above article was provided by Washington News Service. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its content.