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WAC 296-800-100


The WISHA Core Rules: Your foundation for a safe and healthful workplace. This book contains 26 basic safety and health rules that affect all employers and should cover almost everything small, nonmanufacturing employers need for a safe and healthful workplace. These core rules include requirements for your Accident Prevention Program, personal protective equipment, first aid, and hazard communication program.
Note: You may need to comply with other WISHA rules. For a complete list of WISHA rules, see the resources section of this book.
Why does workplace safety and health matter to you?
On average, two people lose their lives every week in job-related incidents in Washington state. Each year, more than 250,000 workers' compensation claims are accepted for work-related injuries and illnesses. Medical care and wage replacement for these injured workers costs more than a billion dollars. The indirect costs of workplace injuries are even larger in terms of lost quality of life, personal financial ruin, operating costs of business, and decreased profitability. Employers and employees who work together to identify and control hazards on the job can save lives and money while improving business and productivity.
What are L&I and WISHA?
The department of labor and industries (L&I) is a state agency that provides many different services:
• Workplace safety and health, including inspections and enforcement, consultation, technical assistance, training, education and grants. (WISHA)
• Workers' compensation (or industrial insurance), including claims management, rate setting, medical payments, and research.
• Specialty compliance services, including contractor registration, electrical inspections, boiler and elevator inspections, apprenticeship programs and employment standards.
Many of these services are available from L&I's twenty-two regional offices (see the resource section of this book for a list of regional offices).
In 1973, the legislature passed the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act or WISHA (Revised Code of Washington (chapter 49.17 RCW)). WISHA requires employers to provide safe and healthful workplaces for all employees. It gives L&I the responsibility to establish and enforce workplace safety and health rules. These rules are the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).
How does WISHA work?
WISHA covers nearly all employers and employees in Washington, including employees who work for the state, counties, and cities. L&I inspectors enforce WISHA rules by inspecting workplaces without advance notice including investigations of work-related deaths, injuries, and employees' complaints. When WISHA inspectors find a violation in a workplace, they issue a citation to the employer and a penalty may be attached. If you have questions about whether you are covered by WISHA, call 1-800-4BE SAFE ( 1-800-423-7233) or a local office of L&I.
What is OSHA and its relationship to WISHA?
The U.S. Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1971 to develop and enforce workplace safety and health rules throughout the country. States may choose to run their own safety and health programs as long as they are at least as effective as OSHA. Washington state has chosen to run its own program and most employers in the state, therefore, are subject to enforcement by L&I and not by federal OSHA.
In Washington state, OSHA covers workplaces with federal employees, nonfederal employees working on federal reservations and military bases, employees working on floating worksites (floating dry docks, fishing boats, construction barges), and employees working for tribal employers on tribal lands.
Does WISHA apply to you?
WISHA applies to almost every employer and employee in Washington. WISHA applies to you if:
• You hire someone to work for you as an employee, including workers from a temporary agency.
• You are hired to work for someone as their employee.
• You own your own business or you are a corporate officer and have elected industrial insurance coverage for yourself.
• You have a contract with someone else that primarily involves personal labor, even though you are not required to pay industrial insurance or unemployment insurance premiums.
• You volunteer your personal labor, or you have volunteers working for you who receive any benefit or compensation.
If you have any questions about your particular situation, call 1-800-4BE SAFE ( 1-800-423-7233) or contact your local office of L&I for help. See the resource section of this book for a complete list of L&I offices.
Are there other safety and health rules I need to know about?
In addition to the rules in the WISHA Safety and Health Core Rules book, there are other general WISHA rules that may apply to employers, depending upon the industry and workplace activities. See the resource section of this book for a complete list of WISHA rules or go to the web site for all the state rules administered by L&I at If you have questions about these rules or would like copies of them, call 1-800-4BE SAFE ( 1-800-423-7233) or your local office of L&I.
How do the WISHA rules relate to fire, building and electrical codes?
Fire codes: WISHA rules contain basic requirements for portable fire extinguishers, exit routes, housekeeping, storage, stairs and electrical hazards for the protection of employees in your workplace. The rules contained in this book are the most basic requirements to make sure that as an employer you provide a safe and healthy work environment. However, these are not the only rules regarding the requirements for portable fire extinguishers, exit routes, housekeeping, storage, stairs and electrical equipment. The fire marshal and local fire authorities enforce the Uniform Fire Code (UFC). WISHA and UFC differ in some areas, for example UFC requires exit sign lettering to be 6" or more and WISHA only states that the letters have to be clearly visible. Fire codes have more detailed and extensive requirements for the protection of the public than WISHA. Some codes overlap with WISHA requirements.
Building and electrical codes: WISHA rules are minimum requirements regardless of when the building was built or remodeled. Buildings must also comply with building and electrical codes at the time of construction. If you remodel, you must comply with the building and electrical codes applicable at that time. Building authorities and electrical inspection authorities enforce rules from the Uniform Building Code (UBC), and the National Electrical Code (NEC).
You are encouraged to call your local fire, building or electrical authority. For more information on the requirements in your area look in the government section of your phone book. Copies of these codes are available at your local library.
How can WISHA help employers and employees?
Employers can ask WISHA safety and health consultation staff for free, confidential consulting services in your workplace. WISHA safety and health professionals can examine your workplace and make recommendations about how to comply with WISHA rules. If the consultant finds hazards, the employer will be given a reasonable period of time to correct the hazard without citation or penalty.
Sometimes you might have to wait for an appointment because of the demand for these services. You still must provide a safe workplace while you wait for a consultation.
WISHA offers a wide variety of free services:
• Safety and health workshops held in locations throughout the state
• A comprehensive safety and health video lending library
• Safety and health publications geared for both employer and employee
• Web site with online publications and learning opportunities
By law, WISHA consultants do not have any enforcement authority.
Link: For more information, call 1-800-4BE SAFE ( 1-800-423-7233) or visit
[Statutory Authority: RCW 49.17.010, [49.17].040, and [49.17].050. WSR 01-23-060, § 296-800-100, filed 11/20/01, effective 12/1/01; WSR 01-11-038, § 296-800-100, filed 5/9/01, effective 9/1/01.]
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