Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ergonomics Comes to Washington State Health Care Workers

Good news for the backs of Washington State health care workers:
Washington’s major nursing, hospital, and health worker groups today joined in celebrating the passage of a law to promote safer moving and lifting of patients in the state’s hospitals.

The Washington Senate voted 48-0 today to approve the bill. Yesterday, the Washington House of Representatives voted 85-13 in favor of the legislation.

The bill requires hospitals to:
  • Establish Safe Patient Handling Committees.

  • Create safe patient handling policies.

  • Conduct patient handling assessments.

  • Provide annual staff training.

  • Conduct annual performance evaluations.
The bill also provides a tax credit to hospitals to encourage expanded use of mechanical lift equipment.

The bill was supported by the Service Employees International Union District 1199NW, the United Staff Nurses Union/UFCW Local 141, the Washington State Hospital Association, and the Washington State Nurses Association.

In 1993, Washington voters repealed the state's ergonomics standard after a million-dollar distortion-filled campaign led by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW).