Need clarification on WISHA verses OSHA and how it applies to your company? Need to know what services they provide. Read below and you will find clarity…
WISHA stands for Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created in 1971 by the U.S. Congress to develop and enforce workplace safety and health rules throughout the country. States have the option to run their own safety and health programs as long as they are at least as effective as OSHA. Washington state has chosen to run its own program and most employers in the state, therefore, are subject to enforcement by L&I and not by federal OSHA.
In 1973, the legislature passed the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act or WISHA (Revised Code of Washington (chapter 49.17 RCW)). WISHA requires employers to provide safe and healthful workplaces for all employees. It gives L&I the responsibility to establish and enforce workplace safety and health rules. These rules are the Washington Administrative Code (WAC).

In Washington OSHA Covers:

  • Workplaces with federal employees

  • Nonfederal employees working on federal reservations and military bases

  • Employees working on floating worksites (floating dry docks, fishing boats, construction barges)

  • Employees working for tribal employers on tribal lands


WISHA 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.

  • You own your own business or you are a corporate officer and have elected industrial insurance coverage for yourself.

  • 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.

How can WISHA help employers and employees?

Employers can ask WISHA safety and health consultation staff for free, confidential consulting services in your workplace. WISHA safety and health professionals can examine your workplace and make recommendations about how to comply with WISHA rules. If the consultant finds hazards, the employer will be given a reasonable period of time to correct the hazard without citation or penalty.

Sometimes you might have to wait for an appointment because of the demand for these services. You still must provide a safe workplace while you wait for a consultation.

Note: By law, WISHA consultants don’t have any enforcement authority.
WISHA offers a wide variety of free services:

  • Safety and health workshops held in locations throughout the state

  • A comprehensive safety and health video lending library.

  • Safety and health publications geared for both employer and employee.

  • Website with on-line publications and learning opportunities.

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) oversees workplace safety and health in Washington State by:

  • Developing and implementing rules

  • Inspecting 7,000 workplaces each year, citing businesses that violate health and safety rules

  • Conducting 2,500 free, on-site consultations requested by employers each year

  • Providing training for employers, including:

    • Workshops

    • Online training

    • Publications and videos

    • Other training resources