A Washington State judge has rejected an industry challenge to the Washington Department of Labor and Industries ergonomics rule. The rule, which is the most comprehensive regulation to protect workers from repetitive strain injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders in the U.S., was challenged by a coalition of employers. It will be phased in over the next seven years.

The decision represents a setback for the employers seeking to repeal the regulations. In their lawsuit, the group claimed state regulators exceeded their authority, relied on insufficient evidence and failed to coordinate with other statutes.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Paula Casey ruled against the business community on all points. It's expected that industry will appeal the ruling. "We hope a higher, wiser court will see, on appeal, all the dark ramifications of this regulation," said Carolyn Logue, director of the 17,000-member Washington Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Michael Silverstein, MD, Assistant Director for Industrial Safety and Health of the Washington Department of Labor and Industries said, "This is very good news for the workers of the state of Washington who suffer more than 50,000 ergonomic-related injuries every year. These are painful and costly injuries that can be prevented. The ruling not only takes us a step closer to preventing these serious injuries but it will save employers money on the bottom-line. We will continue our efforts to work with employers and employees as the regulation is phased in over the next seven years."