This information is current as of July 1, 2022
Masks are no longer required for most workers, however, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a public health emergency and a recognized workplace hazard. Employers must continue to ensure a safe workplace.
Basic Requirements for All Workplaces
At a minimum, all employers must do the following:
- Keep workers known or suspected to have COVID-19 from working around others by following appropriate isolation guidance as outlined by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH).
- Provide hand washing facilities and supplies, and regularly clean and sanitize surfaces.
- Educate workers about COVID-19 prevention in the language they understand best.
- Provide written notice of potential COVID-19 exposure within one business day to all workers, and the employers of subcontracted workers, who were at the same work site as a person who tested positive (without disclosing the person’s identity).
- Report COVID-19 outbreaks to L&I within one business day when they involve 10 or more workers at a workplace or job site with more than 50 workers.
- Address COVID-19 notification, reporting, and prevention measures in the employer’s workplace-specific, written Accident Prevention Program or equivalent safety program.
- Allow workers to voluntarily wear masks (respirators, medical procedure masks, or cloth face coverings) and personal protective equipment (PPE) as long as it doesn’t create a safety or security issue.
Assessing COVID-19 Hazards
Employers must continue to assess COVID-19 hazards in their workplaces, because the level of hazards may change. This depends on the amount of disease in the community, how close workers are to others, whether the worker or others they interact with are vaccinated, and ventilation.
When COVID-19 hazards change, employers may need to adjust their prevention measures.
Where Masks Are Still Required
In addition to the requirements outlined above, masks are still required for all workers:
- In hospitals, dentist offices, medical facilities, and other health care settings.
- In long-term care settings, including home care, home health and home hospice.
- In locations required by federal law.
- In correctional facilities.
- When following isolation period guidelines for wearing a “well-fitting mask” per the DOH or the employer’s local health agency.
- When their employer chooses to require mask use.
For workers providing care to an individual known or suspected to have COVID-19, fit-tested and NIOSH-approved respirators are required when working within six feet.
When respirators are required for protection against COVID-19, so is a written respirator program.
Additional Worker Protections
The level of COVID-19 hazards may change, and continued assessment is required to determine whether further precautions are needed. Based on a hazard assessment, the following prevention measures may assist employers:
- Support vaccinations for workers. Being vaccinated significantly reduces the risk for severe illness.
- Continue wearing masks or respirators, which are effective at reducing transmission. Medical procedure masks are a better choice than cloth face coverings. A properly fitting respirator provides the most protection. This is especially important for those at increased risk for severe disease and for workers in certain high-risk situations.
- Physically distance workers from others, especially when the workforce is unvaccinated or when ventilation is poor. Physical barriers may also be used as sneeze guards or to augment physical distancing.
- Maximize fresh air and air filtration settings on HVAC systems, and improve filtration in areas with poor ventilation.
Verifying Worker Vaccination Status
For workplaces where vaccinations are required, such as healthcare settings and schools, the employer must verify workers’ vaccination status.
Additional Resource, Recommendatons and Guidance:
- Stay up-to-date on the current COVID-19 situation in Washington,
- COVID-19 resources and recommendations (DOH)
- Frequently asked questions (DOH)
- Workplace COVID-19 resources (L&I)
- Travelers: Follow CDC recommendations
8/17/2022 The following document are currently under revision:
- BFHD accepted-types-of-covid-tests
- What to do if a Person is Symptomatic decision tree (general public, NOT health care settings, schools, correctional facilities, crowded worksites, congregate living )- DOH 1/2022
- COVID19 Quarantine or Isolate ENGLISH (color) BFHD 3/4/2022
- COVID19 Quarantine or Isolate SPANISH (color) BFHD 3/4/2022
Requirements for places of employment issued by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries have been updated here. This resource continues to detail the choices workers have to continue to mask up and other updated guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on the job and help employers meet their obligations to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
If an Employee has COVID-19
Employers are required to notify Benton-Franklin Health District *within 24 hours* if they suspect COVID-19 is spreading in their workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among their employees in a 14 day period. Report cases online
On Monday, 12/27, CDC announced in a press release that they are updating their guidance on isolation and quarantine times for the general public. DOH similarly followed to adopt CDC’s guidance for the general public on 12/28.
In subsequent meetings, the CDC has indicated the guidance released earlier this week was intended for the general public, and they will be releasing additional I&Q guidance for some congregant settings soon. While we await official, updated guidance from CDC, WA DOH is assessing certain setting-specific isolation and quarantine recommendations for non-healthcare congregate settings. In light of this, WA DOH recommends that people staying, working/learning in the following settings continue to follow existing DOH and CDC guidance (not the general public guidance which was updated earlier this week) until updated sector/setting specific recommendations are available.
- Commercial maritime settings such as commercial seafood and cargo ships
- Crowded work sites where physical distancing is not possible due to the nature of the work, such as in warehouses, factories, and food packaging and meat processing facilities
- Correctional facilities
- Homeless shelters and transitional housing
- Temporary worker housing
- Schools and childcare
- Institutions of higher education
Further, to ensure occupational health and safety, employers should refer to and follow all applicable worksite requirements outlined by the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).
COVID19 Quarantine or Isolate ENGLISH (color) BFHD 3/4/2022
COVID19 Quarantine or Isolate SPANISH (color) BFHD 3/4/2022
When employers must report cases to Benton-Franklin Health District:
- Employers who operate in health care and social service settings (e.g., senior living communities, homeless shelters, child care programs) should report cases to BFHD, while maintaining the confidentiality of anyone who is sick.
- Employers in non-health care settings must notify BFHD within 24 hours if they suspect COVID is spreading in their workplace or if there are two or more confirmed or suspected cases among their employees in a 14 day period.
If you are a non-healthcare or social services setting, but you think the virus may be spreading through your workplace, please contact BFHD.
If one of your employees has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and may have been in close contact with other employees while infectious, notify other employees they may have been exposed, but do not identify the person who is sick. They can get tested, monitor for symptoms, and quarantine at home if high-risk for exposure.
Cleaning and disinfection
In most cases, you do not need to shut down your facility. If it has been less than 7 days since the sick employee has been in the facility, close off any areas used for prolonged periods of time by the sick person:
- Wait 24 hours from the last time the employee was in the facility before cleaning and disinfecting to minimize potential exposure for other employees. If waiting 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
- During this waiting period, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in these areas.
If the employee has been in all areas of the facility it may be recommended for the facility to shut down.
If it has been 7 days or more since the sick employee used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary. Continue routinely cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces in the facility. Follow the CDC cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
Cooperate with public health investigators
The state requires employers to cooperate with public health authorities investigating any cases, suspected cases, outbreaks or suspected outbreaks of COVID-19. Any employers who do not follow the governor’s proclamation can be cited and fined.
Maintain healthy business operations
- Appoint a COVID-19 supervisor to trace cases in the workforce and alert anyone who may have been exposed. The supervisor should help employees who have tested positive trace their contacts with coworkers. The supervisor should also prepare resources to assist workers who need guidance about how to isolate or quarantine at home. The supervisor must maintain the privacy of employees’ protected health information.
- Establish sick leave policies and practices that are flexible and supportive, especially for workers 60 or older or those with underlying health conditions who are especially vulnerable to the virus. When sick employees stay home, it prevents the spread to others at work and customers.
- Do not require a doctor’s note from any employees with symptoms of COVID-19.
- Communicate supportive workplace policies, such as telework options, employee assistance programs, and alternatives to public-facing duties – in the preferred language of employees.
- Establish social distancing policies and practices.
Farm and Farmworker Guidance
Emergency Rule Adoption – Temporary Worker Housing
The Department of Health (DOH) in conjunction with the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) continue to respond to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. DOH and L&I are adopting revisions to the initial emergency rule for temporary worker housing. DOH and L&I filed the initial emergency rules on May 13, 2020, WSR 20-11-024 and WSR 20-11-025 respectively. As the pandemic continues to impact residents of Washington state and temporary worker housing occupants, and in response to the Governor’s guidance, DOH and L&I filed subsequent emergency rules through January 21, 2022 (WSR 22-04-010 and WSR 22-04-017) to protect occupants from COVID-19 hazards in licensed temporary worker housing.
These new, revised emergency rules took effect May 20, 2022.
The emergency rule:
• Maintains the requirements for operators to educate occupants on COVID-19 in a language or languages they understand and the requirement to conspicuously post information regarding COVID-19 in a language commonly understood by the occupants.
• Updates the education requirements to include what to do if an occupant is exposed to SARS-CoV-2; and what to do if they test positive for SARS-CoV-2.
• Maintains the language stating existing law regarding allowing entry of community health workers and community-based outreach workers to provide additional information.
• Updates the term “face covering” to “face covering/mask” to reflect current terms used. Maintains the requirement for operators to provide face covering/masks to occupants for use in accordance with DOH guidelines or as required by L&I rules but removes the requirements to instruct occupants and visitors about face coverings.
• Removes requirements related to physical distancing, bed placement, and use of bunk beds in sleeping quarters, and the alternative group shelter option. Operators must comply with the bed placement and bunk bed use requirements under the permanent rule in WAC 296-307-16170.
• Maintains the requirement for ventilation.
• Removes requirements related to clean and disinfect surfaces except for the requirement to clean and disinfect areas where symptomatic suspect SARS-CoV-2 cases or confirmed SARS-CoV-2 positive cases have been and the requirement to ensure adequate supplies of soap and single-use paper towels at all sinks to allow for frequent handwashing.
Updates the requirements related to screening and isolation of suspect SARS-CoV-2 and positive SARS-CoV-2 cases as follows:
o Removes the requirement to provide thermometers to each occupant or training a person to check all occupants temperatures daily, instead operators must ensure that an adequate number or “no touch” or “no contact” thermometers be available for occupants to use.
o Updates the requirement to notify local health officers and provide transportation for any needed medical evaluation upon identification of any individual known to have or suspected of having SARS-CoV-2.
o Updates terms referring to confirmed cases.
o Requires the identification of close contacts in accordance with the Washington State Department of Health or local health officer close contact definition.
o Updates the quarantine and isolation requirements for close contacts and individuals who test positive for COVID to follow current DOH guidance, which could vary by vaccination status. Adds that close contacts must follow the DOH guidance for symptom monitoring and masking post-exposure, and that close contacts of a suspect SARS-CoV-2 case that is ruled out do not need to continue to be treated as close contacts.
o Maintains the requirements for daily licensed health care professional visits for employees in isolation with symptoms. For asymptomatic employees in isolation employees, a licensed health care professional visit is required upon initial placement in isolation and upon request of the asymptomatic employee or the licensed health care professional.
o Removes the requirements related to vaccine verification. Operators may need to verify vaccine status to determine quarantine requirements for close contacts under the DOH guidance.
Both L&I and DOH each filed a Preproposal Statement of Inquiry (CR-101) on September 10, 2020, WSR 20-19-047 and WSR 20-10-050, regarding permanent amendments to the existing permanent rules to address hazards from COVID-19 or other outbreaks of airborne infectious diseases. Some amendments made as part of the emergency rules will be considered for permanent rulemaking. For example, changes to ventilation requirements, and isolation requirements during an outbreak.
The links below provide additional information about this rulemaking:
As new information, data, and science becomes available, it is important that DOH and L&I continue to update and immediately amend existing rules to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This emergency rule is necessary for the preservation of public health, safety, and general welfare of occupants of temporary worker housing for the 2021 growing season. The Governor’s Washington Ready order 20-25.17 and Secretary of Health Order 20-03.5 are currently in effect, and observing the time requirements of notice and opportunity to comment upon adoption of a permanent rule would be contrary to the public interest and the Governor’s order.
The proclamation now requires agricultural employers to test their entire workforce when health officials identify an outbreak that meets the following criteria:
- The local health jurisdiction reports that the employer’s workforce has more than nine positive cases within a 14-day window; or
- The local health jurisdiction determines that the employer’s workforce has an attack rate greater than or equal to 10 percent of the workforce within a 14-day window.
If you need to perform extensive COVID-19 testing at your farm, facility or H2A housing BFHD can facilitate the process by:
- Providing you with testing supplies if you already have a medical provider that you are working with
- Setting up a testing event at your facility through one of our partnerships in the community
Process for Mass Testing
- Call our office at 509-460-4200
- Ask for the Health District Outbreak Mitigation Team
- We will initiate the process with one of our community partnerships
- They will contact you to set up a time and date for the testing event
- The cost of COVID-19 testing depends on the type of test being performed and all COVID-19 testing should be covered by health insurance
Ensure that employees in isolation have access to advanced life support emergency medical services within 20 minutes, and an emergency room with ventilator capability within one hour
EMS (ALS, BLS and ILS transport) Response Areas
Employer Testing Guidance (DOH & BFHD)
The COVID-19 Safety Plan Template is a basic tool to assist businesses in creating their plans to reopen as allowed by the governor’s orders:
If you are a business, or worker with inquires you can use this form to ask Washington State for guidance: COVID-19 Business and Worker Inquiries
L&I has issued coronavirus workplace safety guidance for numerous industries including agriculture, grocery workers, janitorial workers, and construction – Division of Occupational Safety and Health coronavirus webpage
There are additional materials available on BFHD Posters and Graphics page
Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery (Archive)
The phased recovery system aims to safely ease some restrictions while also maintaining crucial hospital capacity, ensuring care for Washington residents who need it and paving the way for economic recovery. See the proclamation here.
On June 2, 2021, Governor Inslee announced that some industries with minimal customer or general public interaction will no longer need to follow additional guidance. They will instead only need to follow the COVID-19 workplace health and safety measures established by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).
- Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses – DOH
- COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers – Governor’s Site
- Return to Work Guidance – BFHD
⇒ Answer the Sports Tournament Survey for the Health District prior to the tournament
Business Guidance by Industry - Phase 1-3 (Archived Documents)
Benton and Franklin Counties Re-Opening Requirements:
- Sign a business pledge (Spanish) that they will follow all COVID-19 guidance.
- Complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan PDF (Spanish PDF)and submit it by email or in person to the county in which the business is licensed (instructions below). If you need an editable Word version click here.
- Post the COVID-19 Safety Plan at the front of the business.
- Require face coverings for employees and customers and post signs that face coverings are required (Spanish).
Plans must be submitted to the county in which the business is licensed.
- Benton County: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Franklin County: email@example.com.
Roadmap to Recovery Phase Reopening Guidance
On January 5, 2021, Governor Inslee announced the Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan, which lays out the process to safely reopen Washington state. The plan includes guidance for certain businesses and industries to help protect Washingtonians and minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Important Reference Documents
- Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery (Regional Phase Status)
- Facial Coverings and Guidance for Businesses
- High-Risk Worker Proclamation FAQ
- Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in Online Education Settings
- Voluntary Contact Information
Healthy Washington Requirements – Guidance by Industry
The following business activities must adhere to the occupancy and operation requirements outlined for their region’s Healthy Washington phase:
Eating and Drinking Establishments
- Restaurants, Taverns, Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries
- Outdoor and Open-air Structures (with FAQ)
- COVID-19 Guidance for Food Workers & Food Establishments (will replace all individual guidance for farmers markets, food pantries, grocery stores, restaurants and other food establishments)
- Farmers Market and Event Operational Guidance (BFHD)
Sports, Recreation and Fitness
- Fitness and Training
- Overnight Group Summer Camps
- Racing: non-motorized and motorized
- Spectator Events (spectators of sports must follow this guidance, including masking at all times)
- Sporting Activities: recreational, K-12, higher education and professional
- Sporting Activities FAQ
- Water Recreation Facilities – Reopening
- Water Recreation Facilities – Occupancy
Indoor Entertainment Establishments
Outdoor Entertainment Establishments
All employers must follow COVID-19 prevention protocols for employees as required by the Department of Labor and Industries. Industry-specific workplace requirements are listed below:
Additional Industry Requirements
- Agricultural Industry
- Child Care, Youth Development and Day Camps
- Education: Graduation Ceremonies
- Graduation Events
- Home Care & Hospice
- Homeless Shelters
- In-Store Retail
- Libraries – WA Talking Book and Braille Library
- Miscellaneous Venues
- Motion Picture Industry
- Personal Services
- Pet Grooming
- Professional Services
- Professional Photography
- Real Estate
- Recovery Support Group
- Religious and Faith-Based Organizations
- Spectator Events
- Taxi and Rideshare
- Theatre and Performing Arts
- Transient Accommodations (Hotels, Motels, B&Bs, etc.)
- Vehicle and Vessel Sales
- Weddings, Funerals and Events (Prom, etc.)
- Workplace Education Programs
- Yard Sales – (follow private gathering guidance on private property)
Safety Requirements for Employers (Archive)
All phases – Employers are required to:
- Maintain the 6-foot physical distancing requirements for employees and patrons. Adopt other prevention measures such as barriers to block sneezes and coughs when physical distancing is not possible for a particular job task.
- Provide services while limiting close interactions with patrons.
- Provide adequate sanitation and personal hygiene for workers, vendors and patrons. Ensure employees have access to hand washing facilities so they can wash their hands frequently with soap and running water.
- Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfection of the business, particularly of high-touch surfaces.
- Identify personal protective equipment (PPE) and cloth facial coverings in accordance with L&I requirements on facial coverings and industry specific COVID-19 standards. Provide the necessary PPE and supplies to employees.
- Identify strategies for addressing ill employees, which should include requiring COVID-19 positive employees to stay at home while infectious, and potentially restricting employees who were directly exposed to the COVID-19 positive employee.
- Follow CDC cleaning guidelines to deep clean after reports of an employee with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 illness. This may involve the closure of the business until the location can be properly disinfected.
- Educate employees about COVID-19 in a language they best understand. The education should include the signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.
- On a case-by-case basis, as directed by federal, state and local public health and workplace safety officials, implement other practices appropriate for specific types of businesses, such as screening of employees for illness and exposures upon work entry, requiring non-cash transactions, etc.
- Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights.
- Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices, as outlined in Governor Inslee’s “Roadmap to Recovery Proclamation“.
- ADDITIONALLY, in furtherance of these prohibitions and for general awareness:
- Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03.1, issued on July 24, 2020, is incorporated by reference, and may be amended as is necessary; and, all such amendments are also incorporated by reference.
- Employers must comply with all conditions for operation required by the state Department of Labor & Industries, including interpretive guidance, regulations and rules such as WAC 296-800-14035, and Department of Labor & Industries-administered statutes.
- Everyone is required to cooperate with public health authorities in the investigation of cases, suspected cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks of COVID-19 and with the implementation of infection control measures pursuant to State Board of Health rule in WAC 246-101-425.
- All mandatory guidelines for businesses and activities, which remain in effect except as modified by this Proclamation and the Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03.1, may be found at the Governor’s Office website, COVID-19 Resources and Information, and at COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers.
Essential Business Guidelines (Archive)
- COVID-19 Vaccination FAQs for Critical Workers’ Employers
- K-12 and Higher Education – See full list at School Guidance (BFHD)
- Childcare, Youth Development, and Summer Day Camps (DOH)
- Farmers Market Operational Requirements (DOH)
– Farmers Market and Event Operational Guidance (BFHD)
– Temporary Event Coordinator Application (BFHD)
- Food Processing-Warehouse (English)
- Food Processing-Warehouse (Spanish)
- Grocery Stores (small) (BFHD)
- Temporary Worker Housing (DOH)
- Real Estate requirements (Memo from Gov. Inslee)
- Courts; Washington State Courts – Guidance for resuming jury trials (DOH)
- Water Recreation Facilities Guidance in Phases (DOH)
- Water systems; Shock Chlorination Guidance for Building Water Systems (DOH)
- Workforce Training Requirements (L&I)