Tuesday, March 21, 2023
March 21, 2023

Linkedin Pinterest

Washington employers still expected to help prevent COVID spread

State’s emergency order ends, but some advice still in effect

By , Columbian staff writer

Despite the lifting of Washington’s COVID-19 emergency orders this week, the state Department of Labor & Industries encourages employers to be vigilant at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

In a news release, the department said employers still must assess their specific workplace for COVID-19 hazards and take steps to prevent employee exposure based on that assessment. Workers who’ve tested positive for the virus should still be kept out of the workplace for at least five days per Washington State Department of Health guidance.

Health care workers and those providing care to or working near someone known or suspected of having COVID-19 should wear appropriate, fit-tested and National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health-approved respirators.

Rules under the state Health Emergency Labor Standards Act will remain in place as long as there’s a national COVID-19 state of emergency. The law prevents employers from retaliating against high-risk employees who seek accommodation from exposure. It also requires employers to notify workers when an exposure to COVID-19 happens, and to report outbreaks at any company with more than 50 workers.

A separate law protects employees who choose to purchase and voluntarily wear personal protective equipment, such as masks.

The Washington State Secretary of Health’s Face Covering Order is in place for health care and long-term care settings and for correctional and jail facilities, except where community transmission is low. Some local health jurisdictions may also require masks.