Safety and Health
State Resource Locator
Washington is one of 21 states operating an approved occupational safety and health program. This program is operated by the Department of Labor and Industries.
Washington occupational safety and health program (WISHA) was established when the legislature passed the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act in 1973. In 1976 it became the nation's first fully operational state safety and health plan approved by the federal government. WISHA has a long prior history of public service dedicated to the protection of worker safety and health.
WISHA's job is to ensure that employers provide safe and healthful working conditions for Washington's workers. WISHA works in partnership with business, labor, institutions and other government agencies to save workers' lives and to help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. Nearly all employers and employees in Washington are covered, including workers for the state, counties and cities. WISHA is administered by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I), WISHA Services Division.
Employers in Washington must follow safety and health rules, called standards, to protect their employees from workplace hazards. The Department enforces the rules by inspecting workplaces without advance notice, and by investigating work-related fatalities, incidents and complaints. When a violation is found, we issue a citation requiring the employer to correct the hazard. The WISH Act requires monetary penalties for serious violations. WISHA encourages employers to voluntarily comply with the standards, and offers free on-site consultation visits and training services. Employers are required to fix serious hazards identified by a consultant, but penalties are not assessed.
WISHA enforces general safety and health standards, also called horizontal standards, that all employers must comply with (Chapters 296-24 and 296-62 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC)). Industry-specific standards, also known as vertical standards, apply to about 30 specific industries such as construction.
Occupational Safety and Health Regulations
State Consultation Program
At your request, a safety and health consultant will come to your business and analyze your employee safety and accident prevention programs. You will be offered suggestions that could help save money on your industrial insurance costs.