About OSHA, WISHA, and DOSH

Calendar of January 1907 showing number of workers who died on specific days in Pittsburg factories. Five workers died on January 9th, the day with the most worker deaths, and only the 34d, 5th, 13th, 24th, 25th, and 27th had zero worker deaths. A total of 60 workers died in Pittsburg factories in January 1907.How Do OSHA, WISHA, and DOSH Relate?

OSHA (the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration):

  • was created by the U.S. Congress in 1971 to develop and enforce workplace safety and health rules throughout the country;
  • allows states to run their own safety and health programs as long as they are at least as effective as OSHA ("state plan states");
  • accepted Washington as a "state plan state" (like 25 other states);
  • has jurisdiction in Washington state over only:
    • workplaces with federal employees;
    • nonfederal employees working on federal reservations and military bases;
    • employees working on floating worksites (such as floating dry docks, fishing boats, construction barges);
    • employees working for tribal employers on tribal lands.
  • Can be found online at www.OSHA.gov.

Historical photo showing a man in dress clothes & top hat standing on a plank, another man reclining inside of a wedge-shaped hole that has been cut out of a tree, and a third man in suspenders, boots and a white, long-sleeved shirt standing on another plank. Caption reads: Washington State is one of only 2 or 3 states in the union that includes worker health & safety in its state constitution (since 1889) -- Photo copyright Oregon Historical Society (Used with permission). WISHA (the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act of 1973):

  • is a statute (state law) in the RCW, specifically RCW 49.17 (there are also other RCWs that relate to occupational safety and health);
  • empowers L&I to create and enforce safety and health regulations;
  • allows Washington rules/regulations to be more stringent than OSHA's, if needed;
  • 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;
    • have elected industrial insurance coverage for yourself if you own your own business or you are a corporate officer;
    • 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;
  • is further described in the pamphlet "A Guide to Workplace Safety and Health in Washington State: What Every Employer and Worker Should Know."

Old black & white photo showing the construction of the Alaska Way Viaduct in Seattle in 1952. A crane in the middle of the photo lifts materials onto the constructed roadway. Caption: From 1925 to 1951 rates of serious injuries dropped from 430 to 250 workers for every 100,000 workers. Photo source: Wikimedia Commons - Seattle City Engineering Dept.DOSH (the Division of Occupational Safety and Health) is part of the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) that:

First page of a document entitled Safety Standards with library stamps on the corners. Caption: L&I's first safety standards were adopted in 1923What about RCWs and WACs?

RCW/RCWs stands for the "Revised Code of Washington" and:

WAC/WACs (pronounced "wack/wacks”) stands for "Washington Administrative Code" and:

  • is the body of rules (the WAC) or individual rules (WACs) created to implement an RCW;
  • spells out, in Chapter 296, L&I’s safety and health requirements for employers.

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