May 4, 2023

Washington State Repeals Prohibition on Regulations Intended to Limit MSDs

A bill signed into law on April 20 by Washington Governor Jay Inslee repeals the state’s prohibition on regulations intended to limit musculoskeletal injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs. The law, which goes into effect on July 23, empowers the Washington Department of Labor and Industries (DLI) to adopt rules related to MSDs for specific industries or risk classifications.

The law identifies several limitations on MSD rules. DLI may not adopt more than one set of rules related to MSD prevention over a 12-month period for industries or risk classifications that were not previously regulated for these injuries. Another limitation stipulates that rules for preventing MSDs may apply only to industries or risk classifications whose rates of compensable musculoskeletal injuries and disorders for a five-year period are more than twice that of workers across the state as a whole. The law also requires DLI to annually publish a list of industries and risk classifications that are eligible for MSD-related rulemaking, and prohibits the department from adopting MSD-related rules for home offices unless these are required by Congress or federal OSHA.

An article in The Seattle Times explains that the prohibition on rules addressing MSDs had been in place in Washington since 2003 when it was enacted through a voter referendum.

The text of the rule is available as a PDF.