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Learn About Workers Right to a Safe Workplace

Various images of workers in different job sites.
Workplace safety and health rights apply to all employees in all industries in Washington State.  

Whether you work in a hospital, restaurant, sawmill, orchard, or at a construction site, you and all other employees in Washington State have the right to a safe and healthy workplace.

In addition, you also have a right to

  • file a complaint about workplace safety or health hazards with the Department of Labor and Industries, Division of Occupational Safety & Health (DOSH);
  • participate in a DOSH inspection;
  • participate in your company's safety committee;
  • refuse dangerous work when certain conditions are met;
  • know how to work safety around hazardous chemicals;
  • be protected from discrimination resulting from exercising your rights; and
  • have limited access to injury, illness, and exposure records.

Two men in hard hats and a woman inspector in a hard hat taking notes.
As a worker, you have a right to participate in a DOSH inspection.

Note: To learn about wage, hour, and other workplace rights, see the related topics below.

Workplace rights apply when you work for either private employers or for state or local government agencies. Even teen and temporary workers are protected by these rights. DOSH enforces workplace rights for all employees working in Washington State. Federal employees and employees working for tribal employers on tribal lands are covered by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

DOSH also enforces workplace safety and health rules that your employer is required to follow. These rules require safety programs, procedures, hazard controls, personal protective equipment (PPE), training, and other preventive measures. Although your employer must follow these rules, you are responsible for

  • following your employer's safety program;
  • reporting any on the job injury or illness, accidents, and near misses immediately; and
  • cooperating with inspectors from DOSH.

Knowing your rights and responsibilities is an important step to staying safe and working.

Related topics

A trenching site with a worker in the trench, some machinery above the trench, and another man walking away from the site.
Don't walk off the job! You can refuse to do a specific task if it would be dangerous to your life and/or health (such as working in this unsafe trench), but you need to meet certain conditions and stay on the job (but stay out of danger) until the issue is resolved.

Photo courtesy of OSHA.

L&I rules

Universal rules (for most workplaces):

L&I procedures, enforcement guidance and explanatory interpretations

Forklift driver in a forklift outside in a parking lot navigating through an obstacle course with a man in a safety vest taking notes on a clipboard.

You have a right to be trained on safe practices for the equipment you use and the activities you perform.

Training from L&I

Presentations

Publications and tools

Publications and posters

Resources from outside of L&I

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