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Your Right to a Safe Workplace

Under Washington State law, your employer is required to provide a safe and healthy workplace for you and your co-workers. 

If you suspect a safety violation at your workplace or if you or one of your fellow Union members is asked to perform work that is unsafe, you should call your Local 117 Business Representative immediately. Your Business Representative can consult with Local 117’s legal team, pursue remedies through direct action, litigation, the grievance procedure, and if necessary file a complaint on your behalf with the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is responsible for establishing and enforcing state law with respect to safety in the workplace in accordance with the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA ). The rules relating to the law are outlined in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC). L&I provides many different services:

  • Workplace safety and health, including inspections and enforcement, consultation, technical assistance, training, education and grants (WISHA).
  • Workers' compensation (or industrial insurance), including claims management, rate setting, medical payments, and research.
  • Specialty compliance services, including contractor registration, electrical inspections, boiler and elevator inspections, apprenticeship programs and employment standards.

As your exclusive, certified representative under your collective bargaining agreement, your Local Union can interface with the Department of Labor & Industries on your behalf to ensure that your rights under the law are protected.


If you are injured on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). L&I will cover the costs of a claim for a workplace injury regardless of whether the accident was your fault or your employer’s fault. Your Local Union’s Business Representative can guide you through the process of filing a claim and help ensure that your rights under the law and your collective bargaining agreement are protected.

If you are injured at work, you should:

  1. Seek medical attention immediately – If you are injured on the job, seek medical attention immediately. Go to the emergency room or a doctor even if you think your injury is not serious. You have the right to choose your own doctor and are not required to use the company doctor for medical treatment.
  2. Inform your Business Representative – Let your Union Business Representative know that you have been injured at work. Your Business Rep. can help ensure that the L&I paperwork has been filed and that you receive any applicable time-loss benefits under the law, coordinated with any benefits that may be available under your collective bargaining agreement. Your Business Rep. can also help address unsafe working conditions at your workplace that may have caused the accident.
  3. Inform your employer – Let your employer know that you are injured. An employer needs to know about injuries and be familiar with the situation when the L&I paperwork arrives so that the employer can help you plan your return to work. The employer will also have to complete the employer section of the accident report form that your doctor sends. If you don’t let your employer know about your injury and you need to file a claim later, it may be denied.
  4. Inform the doctor that your injury was work-related/fill out the industrial injury report – Be sure to inform your doctor that your injury was work-related. Describe the incident that caused the injury in as much detail as possible. If English is not your native language, be sure to request an interpreter. Make sure that your doctor fills out an accident report and any other L&I paperwork and submits the paperwork to L&I. L&I must receive your claim within one year of your injury date and within two years from the date of your doctor’s diagnosis for a work-related disease.

Your employer may not retaliate against you for filing a claim or for seeking benefits. If you feel that you are being discriminated against for filing a claim, call your Local Union Business Representative immediately.