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Aug. 30, 2001

New WISHA Safety & Health Core Rules published

TUMWATER - Leave it to government to expect you to follow the law when a simple description of a work day is explained like this: " . . . as set forth in RCW 1.16.050 as now or hereafter amended, and for the purposes of computation of time within which an act is to be done under the provisions of this chapter . . ."

Whew.

Washington state's employers don't have to worry about deciphering such verbiage any longer. This past month, the Department of Labor & Industries has been distributing some 40,000 computer discs containing a concise, plain-English set of rules that contain all the information most businesses will need to comply with the state's health and safety regulations.

Washington's Safety and Health Core Rules take effect on Saturday, Sept. 1, culminating a two-year effort to rewrite the requirements in a form and language that people, other than lawyers, can understand. The rules are available in several forms - computer disc, hard copy, or they can be downloaded from L&I's website.

The rules are a complete overhaul of the language, but contain no new requirements. The project was supported by business and organized labor. Included on the panel that scrutinized the effort were representatives from the Boeing Co., the Washington Food Industry and the Washington State Building & Construction Trades Council.

The purpose of the project was to make it easier for business owners to understand and comply with what's expected of them in the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA). The rules are contained in a single publication and cover most of the state's employers. Nowhere to be found in the rules are words like "aforementioned," "enumeration," "therein," "hereafter" and "thereof."

Washington is the first state to complete such a project, succeeding where federal agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had failed. The effort grew out of the political climate throughout much of the 1990s, where there was a sense that government regulations were overly burdensome on business.

Labor & Industries is holding a series of free, 90-minute workshops throughout the state this Fall to introduce employers to the new rules. For a schedule of workshops in your area, or to register for one of them, you can call 1-800-574-2829.

Labor & Industries administers the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act and manages the state's workers' compensation system.

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