Washington Law Review

Comment

A Stute Observation: Re-Examining Washington’s Enforcement of Workplace Safety Regulations

October 01, 2018 | 92 Wash. L. Rev. 1605

Abstract:  In 1973, the Washington State Legislature enacted the Washington Industrial
Safety and Health Act. The stated purpose of the Act was to ensure safe working conditions
for the working men and women of Washington. Seventeen years later, the Washington State
Supreme Court held that general contractors are per se liable for the WISHA violations of their
subcontractors. However, the Washington Department of Labor and Industries has adopted a
policy of citing general contractors for subcontractor violations only in limited circumstances.
This Comment first outlines the development of worker safety laws in Washington, then
examines the effects of the Department’s policy at both the administrative and appellate level.
Finally, this Comment argues that the Department’s policy is contrary to the governing law
and should be altered to be in line with the law, avoid potential confusion on appeal, and fulfill
the purpose of WISHA: to protect Washington’s workers.

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