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August 28, 1997

Occupational first-aid rules to be simplified

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries will hold five public hearings in late September and early October in Moses Lake, Burlington and Tumwater to gather public comments on a proposal to update and ease first-aid requirements for employers.

Under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA), employers are required to ensure that first-aid care is readily available where employees are working.

The proposal, more than a year in development with the assistance of an industry-based advisory committee, is expected to significantly reduce employer requirements and costs while maintaining appropriate protection for workers.

"This proposal shows me that government, employers and workers can achieve mutually beneficial solutions to common problems," said L&I Director Gary Moore. "I see this rule as proof positive that government regulations can work for everyone."

Briefly, the proposed rules will provide employers with increased flexibility in meeting first-aid requirements. The existing rule - termed a specification-type regulation - specifies exactly what employers must do to comply. The proposed rule - termed a performance-type regulation - gives employers greater flexibility to ensure that workers are protected.

For instance, the current rule specifies that supervisors, floor managers or anyone in direct charge of workers must be first-aid trained. Under the proposed rule, an employer will prepare a written first-aid response plan that addresses the hazards, assesses the need and provides appropriate availability of emergency medical treatment. Employers will have the discretion to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that first aid services are readily available to all employees.

Other proposed highlights:

  • Eliminates requirements for first-aid rooms and staffing
  • Less rigid requirements on who has to be trained
  • Expected to reduce the number of first-aid trained personnel needed
  • Allows more flexibility on first-aid kits -- contents, location, etc.
  • Simplifies and reduces first-aid standard from six pages to two
  • Written in clearly understood language
  • Requires successful completion of first-aid training (including CPR) every two years
The new rule is expected to reduce the overall economic impact of the existing rule for employers.

The hearings will be held:

Moses Lake
Sept. 30, 1997, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Labor & Industries Service Center
3001 West Broadway

Burlington
Oct. 2, 1997, 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Burlington Community Center
(Corner of Regent & Greenleaf streets)

Tumwater
Oct. 7, 1997, 9:30 a.m.
Labor & Industries Building (Auditorium)
7273 Linderson Way

Copies of the proposal are available upon request by contacting the department's toll-free hotline at 1-800-423-7233 or by writing:

Department of Labor & Industries
WISHA Services Division, Standards Section
P.O. Box 44620
Olympia, WA 98504-4620

Both written and oral testimony will be accepted at the hearings. In addition, comments will be accepted by the agency until Oct. 14, 1997. Comments also may be faxed to 360-902-5529 (faxed comments must be limited to 10 pages or less). Correspondence relating to the proposal should be addressed to Tracy Spencer, Standards Manager, at the above address.

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