Worker and Community Right-to-Know Program
What is the Worker and Community Right-to-Know Program?
In 1986, the Legislature passed the Worker and Community Right-to-Know Act (RTK), which required the state to establish a comprehensive program for disclosing information about hazardous substances in the workplace and the community. The program provides a process for residents to obtain information that impacts communities. It is funded through fee assessments to employers. The program is jointly managed by Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) and Department of Ecology (DOE).
Who pays fees?
Fees are assessed to industries reporting 10,400 or more worker hours from the previous calendar year with Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC) codes that fall under the following major groups:
Agriculture and forestry; Mining, construction, manufacturing, transportation, communications, electric, gas, and sanitary services; Automotive repair services and garages, miscellaneous repair services, health services, and educational services.
What are the collected fees used for?
The collected fees support the RTK Program and provide:
Safety and health professionals who assist employers in their workplaces at no additional charge. Assistance may include assessing a workplace for hazards and developing required hazard communication programs. Toll-free telephone numbers for requests and information. Call L&I at 1-800-423-7233. Educational guidelines, brochures and other materials related to state regulations and information on hazardous substances in the workplace and community. Foreign-language translations of information and publications.
These industries typically have or use chemical products that are hazardous and may create a potential exposure to employees.
How is the fee assessment calculated?
Employers are charged $2.50 per each full-time equivalent (FTE) employee. L&I computes an employer's number of FTEs by totaling all full-time, part-time and temporary worker hours reported on industrial insurance from the previous calendar year, then dividing by 2,080 and rounding up to the nearest whole number. A partial FTE is counted as one.
What chemicals are considered hazardous?
Hazardous chemicals include any material that poses either a health and/or physical hazard, such as chemicals either ingested, inhaled, and/or absorbed that could cause damage to living tissue, organs, nervous system, blood system, cause an allergic reaction and/or temporary inflammation, and/or material that is considered flammable, a combustible liquid, compressed gas, an explosive, an organic peroxide, an oxidizer, pyrophoric, and/or unstable (reactive) or water reactive.
Another common exemption is when employees replace toner cartridges in office copy machines. The toner chemical is enclosed within the cartridge, so there is no exposure.
Please note: Exemption requests must be received by L&I within the first 60 days of the original due date. Employers must pay the RTK fee assessment until the exemption has been approved. Your payment will be refunded if the exemption is approved. Send exemption requests to: Department of Labor & Industries, Right-to-Know Program, P.O. Box 44699, Olympia, WA 98504-4620.
Acids Adhesives Battery Fluids Caustics Insecticides Herbicides Foaming Resins Fuels Fungicides Motor Oil Cleaning Agents Flammables Detergents Paints Pesticides Wood Preservatives Solvents Lacquers Varnishes Office Copier Chemicals Janitorial Supplies Water Treatment Chemicals Degreasing Agents Shellac
How do employers ensure quick and accurate payment?
Send the tear-off portion of the billing invoice along with your payment in the return envelope. Please remember to include your account number on your check. You may also pay in person at a local L&I office. Location information is listed in the blue government pages of the telephone directory or online at www.Offices.Lni.wa.gov .
What is the penalty for non-payment?
If payment is received late, a 5 percent (minimum $10) penalty is added to the assessment. If 30 days past the original due date, another 5 percent (minimum $10) penalty is added. If 60 days past the original due date, a 10 percent (minimum $10) penalty is added. Failure to pay the full amount due can result in assessment of interest charges, a lien or attachment against your real or personal property.
Key words on container labels, such as "CAUTION," "WARNING," or "DANGER" are strong indications that the chemical is hazardous. Note: This is not a complete list. It is intended to merely help employers understand what types of chemicals are hazardous.
Can an employer apply for an exemption?
Employers may apply for exemptions when they do not use hazardous chemicals at their work site, or they can demonstrate that workplace exposure is the same as normal consumer use, i.e., when the duration and frequency of exposure to employees is not greater than exposures experienced by consumers.
For additional questions, call L&I's Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) at 1-800-423-7233 or 360-902-6375 or e-mail to RightToKnow@Lni.wa.gov .
8 On the Web: Visit www.Lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/ AtoZ/RTK for a complete copy of the law.
An example of consumer use is when employees occasionally use an abrasive cleanser to clean the lunchroom sink. An example of workplace exposure is daily use by janitorial staff of an abrasive cleanser.
Other formats for persons with disabilities are available on request. Call 1-800-547-8367. TDD users, call 360-902-5797. L&I is an equal opportunity employer.
PUBLICATION F413-075-000 [03-2009]