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State COVID emergency expires, workplace safety protocols still in place


Washington state COVID-19 emergency orders put in place by Gov. Jay Inslee during the pandemic ended Monday, and the state’s Department of Labor and Industries released a statement stating that “employers must continue taking precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.”

Among the general safety requirements and guidance still in place: every employer must assess their specific workplace for COVID-19 hazards and take steps to prevent employee exposure based on that assessment; workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 should be kept out of the workplace for at least five days; and health care workers and others providing care to or working near someone known or suspected to have COVID-19 should wear appropriate, fit-tested and respirators that meet federal standards, according to the department.

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