Voluntary compliance program — Consultation and advisory services.
(1) In carrying out the responsibilities for the development of a voluntary compliance program under the authority of RCW 49.17.050(8) and the rendering of advisory and consultative services to employers, the director may grant an employer's application for advice and consultation, and for the purpose of affording such consultation and advice visit the employer's workplace. Such consultation and advice shall be limited to the matters specified in the request affecting the interpretation and applicability of safety and health standards to the conditions, structures, machines, equipment, apparatus, devices, materials, methods, means, and practices in the employer's workplace. The director in granting any requests for consultative or advisory service may provide for an alternative means of affording consultation and advice other than on-site consultation.
(2) The director, or an authorized representative, will make recommendations regarding the elimination of any hazards disclosed within the scope of the on-site consultation. No visit to an employer's workplace shall be regarded as an inspection or investigation under the authority of this chapter, and no notices or citations shall be issued, nor, shall any civil penalties be assessed upon such visit, nor shall any authorized representative of the director designated to render advice and consult with employers under the voluntary compliance program have any enforcement authority: PROVIDED, That in the event an on-site visit discloses a serious violation of a health and safety standard as defined in RCW 49.17.180(6), and the hazard of such violation is either not abated by the cooperative action of the employer, or, is not subject to being satisfactorily abated by the cooperative action of the employer, the director shall either invoke the administrative restraining authority provided in RCW 49.17.130 or seek the issuance of injunctive process under the authority of RCW 49.17.170 or invoke both such remedies.
(3) Nothing in this section shall be construed as providing immunity to any employer who has made application for consultative services during the pendency of the granting of such application from inspections or investigations conducted under RCW 49.17.070 or any inspection conducted as a result of a complaint, nor immunity from inspections under RCW 49.17.070 or inspections resulting from a complaint subsequent to the conclusion of the consultative period. This section shall not be construed as requiring an inspection under RCW 49.17.070 of any workplace which has been visited for consultative purposes. However, in the event of a subsequent inspection, the director, or an authorized representative, may in his or her discretion take into consideration any information obtained during the consultation visit of that workplace in determining the nature of an alleged violation and the amount of penalties to be assessed, if any. Such rules and regulations to be promulgated pursuant to this section shall provide that in all instances of serious violations as defined in RCW 49.17.180(6) which are disclosed in any consultative period, shall be corrected within a specified period of time at the expiration of which an inspection will be conducted under the authority of RCW 49.17.070. All employers requesting consultative services shall be advised of the provisions of this section and the rules adopted by the director relating to the voluntary compliance program. Information obtained by the department as a result of employer-requested consultation and training services shall be deemed confidential and shall not be open to public inspection. Within thirty days of receipt, the employer shall make voluntary services reports available to employees or their collective bargaining representatives for review. Employers may satisfy the availability requirement by requesting a copy of the reports from the department. The director may provide by rule for the frequency, manner, and method of the rendering of consultative services to employers, and for the scheduling and priorities in granting applications consistent with the availability of personnel, and in such a manner as not to jeopardize the enforcement requirements of this chapter.
[1991 c 89 § 2; 1973 c 80 § 25.]