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July 12, 1996

Public hearings scheduled on farmworker safety and health rules

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries will hold a series of six public hearings across Washington in early August to gather public comment on proposed changes to safety and health rules that protect agricultural workers. It includes proposed changes to pesticides regulations.

The proposed rule changes involve Chapter 296-306 of the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), the industry-specific safety standard that regulates agriculture. Specifically, the agency has rewritten and reorganized the standard to make it easier to read, understand and use. It is identified as Chapter 296-306A WAC, and it will replace the existing standard if adopted.

"This proposed rule does not place any additional compliance requirements on employers," said L&I Director Mark O. Brown. "In the spirit of regulatory reform, this proposal merely clarifies, simplifies and reorganizes the standard so that employers can voluntarily comply with the rules that protect their workers."

The department worked with legislative staff, growers and worker representatives to develop the proposal, a process that involved four drafts and a series of public forums in agricultural communities around the state.

In addition, the hearings also will offer growers and workers an opportunity to comment on separate, legislatively mandated changes to pesticides regulations. Briefly, in accordance with SHB 2703, the department worked with the Department of Agriculture to jointly adopt the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Worker Protection Standard, relating to pesticides.

Since the EPA's Worker Protection Standard currently is in effect and the proposal encompasses rules already being enforced by either the state Department of Agriculture or L&I, there won't be any additional compliance requirements for employers.

The result is a common set of worker-protection rules related to pesticides that eliminates inconsistency and conflict and helps employers understand pesticide requirements.

The hearings will be held in the following places:

Wenatchee, 6 p.m., Aug. 6
Wenatchee Red Lion - Wenatchee/Chelan Room
1225 N. Wenatchee

Spokane/Veradale, 6 p.m., Aug. 7
Red Lion Inn - Ballroom
N. 1100 Sullivan Road
Veradale

Kennewick, 6 p.m., Aug. 8
Cavanaugh's at Columbia Center
N. 1101 Columbia Center Blvd.

Yakima, 6 p.m., Aug. 9
Cavanaugh's at Yakima Center
607 E. Yakima Ave.

Mount Vernon, 6 p.m., Aug. 13
Best Western Cottontree Inn
2300 Market Place

Tumwater, 6 p.m., Aug. 14
Department of Labor & Industries
7273 Linderson Way

Written comments will be accepted up to 5 p.m. on Aug. 21. Submit comments to:

Tracy Spencer, standards supervisor
Division of Consultation and Compliance Services
P.O. Box 44620
Olympia, WA 98507-4620

In addition to written comments, the department will accept comments by fax at 360-902-5529. Comments submitted by fax must be 10 pages or less.

A copy of the proposals can be obtained by contacting Lori Warren at 360-902-4622.

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For media information, contact: 
Bill Ripple, L&I, 360-902-5407, ripp235@lni.wa.gov

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