Washington Issues New Workplace Masking Guidelines

May 21, 2021

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has updated state COVID-19 workplace safety and health guidance to help employers adapt masking policies to meet new CDC guidelines adopted by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The updated guidance details steps employers must take to continue keeping workers safe during COVID-19, while allowing for fully vaccinated workers in many sectors to remove their masks.

What’s new:

  • Fully vaccinated employees aren’t required to wear a mask or socially distance at work, unless an employer still requires it.
  • Before ending mask and social distance requirements, employers must confirm workers are fully vaccinated by having the worker either sign a document attesting to their status or provide proof of vaccination.

Employers must be able to demonstrate they have verified vaccination status for workers who are not masked or physically distanced. Verifications methods may include: Creating a log of workers who have been vaccinated and the date of verification; checking vaccination status each day as workers enter a jobsite; or marking a worker’s badge or credential to show that they are vaccinated. Other methods demonstrating an employer has verified worker vaccination status may also meet the standard.

When verifying an employee’s vaccine status, acceptable documentation includes a CDC vaccination card, a photo of the card, documentation from a health care provider, a signed attestation from the worker or documentation from the state immunization information system.

What’s staying in place:

  • Employers may still require mask use, and with some exceptions, employers must allow employees to wear a mask or other protective equipment if they choose to regardless of vaccination status.
  • If an employee is not fully vaccinated or their vaccination status is unknown, employers must continue to require masks and social distancing.
  • The new guidance does not change masking rules for healthcare settings like hospitals, long-term care facilities, doctor’s offices, or correctional facilities, homeless shelters, or schools. The federal order requiring masks on public transportation remains in place.
  • Employers cannot fire or discriminate against an employee who is at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and is seeking accommodation that protects them from COVID-19 exposure.
  • Unvaccinated individuals are still required to wear face coverings in all public spaces.
  • Employers are encouraged to check with their local public health agency, which may have more stringent requirements or recommendations for masking and social distancing.

Topics Commercial Lines Business Insurance Washington

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