K-12 Health and Safety Guide Review

The DOH/OSPI K-12 Health and Safety Guide is being updated to reflect current codes and best practices. 

The Guide was developed in the 1990s with a statewide committee. It was first published in 2000 and then updated in 2003. The authority for the Guide comes from WAC 246-366-140: (1) The existence of unsafe conditions which present a potential hazard to occupants of the school are in violation of these regulations. The secretary in cooperation with the state superintendent of public instruction shall review potentially hazardous conditions in schools which are in violation of good safety practice, especially in laboratories, industrial arts and vocational instructional areas. They shall jointly prepare a guide for use by department personnel during routine school inspections in identifying violations of good safety practices. The guide should also include recommendations for safe facilities and safety practices.

Since the last update to the Guide in 2003:

  • References have become outdated.
  • Department of Labor & Industries reorganized and renumbered their WACs.
  • The building codes have been updated several times.
  • There are new regulations and best practices in school health and safety.

The Guide is the agreed-upon primary tool for schools and local health jurisdictions to address health and safety issues and maintain consistency. It is also referenced by architects and engineers during the design phase of school construction projects.

This effort is not intended to provide a comprehensive overhaul of the Guide. In the future, DOH and OSPI will update the Guide again when there is a revised WAC 246-366.

Each section of the Guide that is ready for review is posted here as a PDF of the original text with track changes showing the intended updates. Appendixes are not posted with track changes. Reference materials and codes are listed at the beginning of each section with hyperlinks. This will make hyperlinks easier to maintain. Reasons for proposed changes are only provided if not self-evident. The review committee included experienced local health jurisdiction and risk management staff. The existing numbering system was maintained as much as possible. Informational items may have been added at the end of the sections to address issues that frequently arise. 

The Guide is just that – a best practices guide that includes items already included in rules and best practices supported by national standards. Building code references are to the current Washington State adoptions of the Uniform Plumbing Code, the International Fire, Building, and Mechanical codes, etc. This will aid in the use of the Guide in school plan review. It is not to imply that current building codes are retroactively applied to existing facilities.

Review the Revised Sections

Section A. General Procedures (PDF)

Section B. Building Operation and Maintenance (PDF)

Section C. General Safety (PDF)

Section D. Plumbing, Water Supply, and Fixtures (PDF)

Section E. Sewage Disposal (PDF)

Section F. Indoor Air Quality (PDF)

Section G. HVAC – Preventative Maintenance (PDF)

Section H. Sound Control (PDF)

Section I. Lighting (PDF)

Section J. Food Safety in Classrooms (PDF)

Section K. Science Classrooms and Laboratories (PDF)

Section L. Career and Technology Education (PDF)

Section M. Bloodborne Pathogens and Exposure Control Plan (PDF)

Section N. Playgrounds (PDF)

Section O. Animals in Schools (PDF)

Section P. Emergency and Disaster Preparedness (PDF)

Section Q. Pesticide Use in Schools (PDF)

Section R. Visual and Performing Arts (PDF)

Section S. Athletics (PDF)

Appendix B. Department of Health School Inspection/Assessment Protocols (PDF)

Appendix F. Animals in Schools (PDF)

Provide Feedback by June 15, 2024

Make note of the section and title you'd like to provide input on.

Provide Feedback on the Guide

Contact Us

For questions about the revised guide or our review process, contact us.