Senate passes Stanford-sponsored bills aimed at protecting workers

Sen. Derek Stanford

A pair of bills to protect the health and safety of workers, sponsored by 1st District State Sen. Derek Stanford, passed the State Senate Friday.

Senate Bill 6473 would restrict the use of asbestos-containing building materials and require owners of manufacturing facilities to implement a management plan for known installations of asbestos.

According to an announcement from Stanford’s office, the bill also would require better labeling for asbestos, by changing the threshold of asbestos in building materials which triggers labeling requirements. Currently, these materials may contain 1% asbestos without a label; the bill lowers that threshold to 0.1%.

“Unfortunately, there are still many permitted uses for asbestos-containing building materials, and existing facilities built with asbestos will continue to deteriorate over time,” Stanford said. “The use of these materials is a threat to workers in manufacturing facilities. This bill will improve the safety of future workplaces and will place asbestos management requirements on manufacturing facilities similar to those used for public schools.”

 Senate Bill 6440 would require independent medical examinations (IMEs) ordered in workers compensation cases to occur in a location reasonably convenient to the injured worker.  It would also eliminate no-show fees if a worker gives at least five days’ notice.

The bill would also establish a work group to address questions related to the use of IMEs, including:

  • Whether a worker should be allowed to record an exam,
  • How to limit the number of medical examinations imposed on injured workers,
  • How to improve patient access to medical records, and
  • How to improve the efficiency of the independent medical examination process.

“We’ve heard the concerns of injured workers about the burdens IMEs often generate,” Stanford said.  “These include long-distance travel, medical examinations that may be painful and invasive, too many examinations, and emotional distress for workers repeatedly recounting traumatic injuries. SB 6440 seeks to reduce these hardships.”

The 1st District that Stanford — a Democrat — represents includes part of Mountlake Terrace and also the City of Brier. Both bills now go to the State House of Representatives for consideration.

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