HELP Meeting Minutes

November 17, 1999                       


It was agreed upon that the agenda and minutes will be sent via email to all members (instead of snail mail).

Arlene Stebbins from L&I gave a presentation on the New OSHA & WISHA respiratory protection standard.  Arlene gave out a sheet entitled “What’s new?:  Revisions to WISHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard - WAC 296-62, Part E” 

Voluntary use refers to a person using a respiratory when there is no exposure problem, no need and no harm.  Then the only requirement is that the person wearing the respirator must read a ½  page document that is in the WAC.  If the voluntary respirator is a filtering face piece (dust mask), no fit test, no medical evaluation and no care-in-use training is required.  If the voluntary respirator is a half-mask or full mask (or better), then a medical evaluation is required but a fit test is not required.

Employer required refers to respirator use when an exposure is above the PEL or the employer has determined that respirators should be worn.  Arlene reminded the group that it is best to engineer out the hazard or substitute for the hazard before resorting to respirator use.

For particulates, change out can be determined based on resistance of airflow through cartridges.  For chemical cartridges, a change out schedule is required if they don’t have end-of-service-life-indicator.  Many vendors have websites to help you determine change out schedules for particular cartridges.  You will need to know chemical, humidity, temperature, breathing rate, etc.  The assigned protection factors have been updated to ANSI standards; 10 for half-mask and 100 for full-face.

The Medical Evaluation must be performed by a physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP), which may include (in Washington State) a physician’s assistant, a nurse practitioner or an M.D.  A questionnaire is required and must be administered confidentially.  The PLHCP can be company selected or can be the employee’s doctor.  The medical evaluation, for an individual, is transferable to other companies as long as the respirator is the same make and model and the type of exposure is the same.  The medical evaluation frequency is determined by the PLHCP but the employer can request a re-evaluation.  No medical evaluation is required if you use a loose fitting escape only type respirator.  Do need a medical evaluation for tight fitting respirator even if voluntary.

Fit testing is required on all required respirator use.  A fit test is required for positive pressure SCBA and it may be a qualitative fit test.  No fit testing is required if respirator is loose fitting or voluntary use.  Fit testing is required annually.

For emergency response 2 people ‘in’ and 1 person ‘out’ is okay if it is a well controlled and well characterized.  If situation is uncontrolled or unknown, there must be 2 people ‘in’ and 2 people ‘out’. 

WISHA requires supervisors to participate in training.


Brad Gong talked about radioactive liquid filtration systems

EPA and the Department of Health have been warning that it may no longer be allowable to put radioactive materials down the drain.  Commercial systems for filtering liquid radioactives at this point are expensive and not very efficient.  Icos conducted research on filtering systems.  Icos decided to try to develop their own filtering system.  They put together a commercial Calgon charcoal filter and a container made from PVC pipe.  They ran one test and found relatively low binding efficiencies.  They tried filters in series as well.  Clogging and channeling are the main problems at this point. 

Brad Gong mentioned that ATG in Richland just got a permit for mixed waste.

Jim Denovan asked about getting a HELP Group Steering committee together.  Tim McBride, Brad Gong, Jesse Mushen, Seth Stuebbe and Denise Bender volunteered to be on the committee.

The proposed Ergonomics standard was discussed.  The dates for hearings on the standards are as follows:

Jan. 5  Washington State Convention Center, Room 618-620, 8th & Pike     Seattle

Jan. 6  Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, Orcas Room, 3105 Pine St.     Everett

Jan. 10  Tacoma Public Library, Olympic Room, 1102 Tacoma Ave. S.  Tacoma

Jan. 11  Red Lion Hotel at the Quay, Centennial Center, 100 Columbia St.  Vancouver

Jan. 12  Cavanaugh’s Inn at the Park, Skyline Room, 303 W. North River Dr.  Spokane

Jan. 13  Cavanaugh’s at Yakima Center, Ball Room, 607 E. Yakima Ave.   Yakima

Jan. 14  L&I Building, Room S117-S118, 7273 Linderson Way SW    Tumwater

**Hearing times are 1 pm and 6 pm on each day listed.

Brad Gong forwarded information about the new ergonomics standard and it is attached at the end of the minutes.


Brad Gong gave an update on the Medical Waste Roundtable and where they are focusing their efforts for the EPA grant.  The roundtable will focus mainly on plastic pill bottles and chemical waste disposal



It was discussed that the BFI facility in Ferndale is shutting down, making Stericycle the only choice now for a medical waste contractor.


The next HELP meeting will be on January 19th, 2000, at 9:00am at Immunex downtown.  Electrical safety and new DOT/IATA regs are the topics.

Ergonomics Standard Information

<> <<...>>  <> L&I News Center

<index.htm>                L&I NEWS Office of Public Affairs (360) 902-5400 FAX: (360)



Nov. 15, 1999

Proposed ergonomics rule: Washington state says

50,000 worker injuries a year too many to ignore

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor and Industries today proposed a new

regulation <> to help

employers reduce ergonomic hazards that cripple and injure more than 50,000

Washington workers every year.

The proposed rule will protect workers from the primary cause of injury and

illness at Washington workplaces, according to L&I Director Gary Moore, who

unveiled the ergonomics proposal at a news conference in Seattle today. The

rule is aimed at preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders

("ergonomic injuries"), such as back strains, tendinitis and carpal tunnel

syndrome. The afflictions cost Washington businesses millions of dollars a


"Ergonomics is about working smarter and safer," Moore said. "It's about

protecting a worker's body from unnecessary wear and tear on the job. It's

about reducing pain and increasing productivity. That's good for workers and

good for employers.

"We have the ability and the tools to stop this needless pain and

suffering," Moore said. "This is the right thing to do, and now is the time

to do it. Workers are entitled to protection from preventable injury. Your

job shouldn't rob you of your health."

The proposed rule will be presented for testimony at 14 public hearings in

January. Moore said he wants the hearings to produce a full and open

discussion of the proposal.

"While the $340 million annual price tag that goes with these injuries is

enormous, we are talking about more than dollars and cents," Moore said.

"These are real people - workers who are in pain, people unable to work,

people with personal lives damaged by the physical demands of their jobs."

Michael Silverstein, M.D., L&I's assistant director for workplace safety and

health, said the rule resulted from discussions with business, labor, the

medical community and others who care about the health of working people and

the concerns of business. Public meetings held last year and comments from

advisory committees helped shape the proposal.

"We drafted an ergonomics proposal that protects workers," Silverstein said.

"The proposal also gives employers the support they need to successfully

implement these new safety rules."

Ergonomics is the science of designing jobs, selecting tools and modifying

work methods to better fit workers' capabilities and prevent injury.

Initially, the rule would focus on larger employers (50 or more employees)

in the industries that have the highest risk of ergonomic injury. They

include general contractors in residential construction, roofers, nursing

homes and sawmills.

Employers subject to the rule would evaluate jobs that typically involve

exposure to the physical risk factors described in the rule and make changes

if the exposure to any of them reaches a hazardous level. For example,

repeatedly lifting heavy boxes from a conveyor onto a pallet, then reaching

across the pallet to stack them poses a hazard, and the employer would have

to reduce it.

Under the proposed rule, employers could quickly determine whether the rule

applied to their business, and there would be flexibility for companies with

ergonomics programs under way. Employees in ergonomically risky jobs would

receive information on prevention. They would have opportunities to help

their employers design solutions.

Moore said some employers have willingly embraced ergonomics to protect

their employees from unnecessary injury. "But as we have seen with other

workplace hazards, some employers will not voluntarily act to reduce them.

That is why we need an ergonomics rule," he said. "The proof is in the

number of workers' compensation claims paid by L&I. Tens of thousands of

injuries continue each year. That's wrong and we have to do something about


The dates and locations of the hearings follow. Hearing times are 1 p.m. and

6 p.m.

Jan. 5 Washington State Convention Center, Room 618-620, 8th & Pike Seattle




Jan. 6 Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, Orcas Room, 3105 Pine St. Everett map



Jan. 10 Tacoma Public Library, Olympic Room, 1102 Tacoma Ave. S. Tacoma map




Jan. 11 Red Lion Hotel at the Quay, Centennial Center, 100 Columbia St.

Vancouver map



Jan. 12 Cavanaugh's Inn at the Park, Skyline Room, 303 W. North River Dr.

Spokane map



Jan. 13 Cavanaugh's at Yakima Center, Ball Room, 607 E. Yakima Ave. Yakima




Jan. 14 L&I Building, Room S117-S118, 7273 Linderson Way S.W. Tumwater map




L&I will accept oral and written comments at the public hearings. Written

comments may be mailed, faxed or e-mailed until 5 p.m., Feb. 14, 2000. The

fax number is 360-902-5529. (Faxed comments must be 10 or fewer pages.) The

e-mail address is: <>.