COVID-19 & Construction
Statewide Indoor Mask Mandate
Effective Aug. 23, 2021, Washington has expanded its statewide indoor mask mandate to all individuals in most public settings, regardless of vaccination status. This includes restaurants, grocery stores, malls and public facing offices.
Limited exceptions include:
- Offices not easily accessible to the public where individuals are vaccinated;
- Offices where people work alone;
- Vehicles with no public face-to-face interaction; and
- Small private indoor gatherings where everyone is vaccinated.
Masks are not required outdoors though the state Dept. of Health highly recommends masks in crowded outdoor settings like concerts, fairs and farmers’ markets.
CURRENT STATUS OF CONSTRUCTION
As of June 30, 2021, all industry sectors returned to usual capacity and operations, with limited exceptions for large indoor events.
Late on June 11, the Governor’s office rescinded the Construction COVID-19 Job Site Requirements, first introduced in May 2020. However, job sites and construction offices must still comply with L&I’s Requirements and Guidance for Preventing COVID-19, which outlines Coronavirus safety requirements for all businesses in Washington.
What does this mean for employers in the construction industry?
The following are no longer required:
- Having specific COVID-19 control, mitigation and recovery plans at each job site.
However, COVID-19 safety must still be included in required Accident Prevention Programs. (DOSH Directive 1.70)
- Designating a COVID-19 site-safety supervisor.
However, employers are still responsible for COVID-19 safety compliance. (DOSH Directive 1.70)
- Holding weekly COVID-19 safety classes.
However, COVID-19 must be included in other required safety training. (DOSH Directive 1.70)
- Wiping down tools shared between co-workers.
However, a sanitation and disinfection schedule of the site is still required. (DOSH Directive 1.70)
- Maintaining 10-foot distancing with customers in occupied homes.
- Enforcing a quarantine of employees who travel out of state.
Multiple COVID safety requirements still remain
The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has posted updated requirements for places of employment here, including:
- Ensuring unvaccinated employees wear a mask while working indoors. Employees no longer need to wear masks when working outdoors.
- Verifying vaccination status before lifting employee mask requirements and being able to show the process used for verification.
- Preventing employees with possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19 from working around others.
- Providing handwashing facilities and supplies.
- Training employees to recognize and respond to workplace hazards, including COVID-19.
- Assessing recognized hazards, including COVID-19, as part of the ongoing requirement to provide a safe and healthful workplace and, where appropriate, taking additional steps to protect unvaccinated employees.
- Notifying employees in writing within one business day if someone they had close contact with tests positive for COVID-19 (without disclosing the person’s identity).
- Reporting COVID-19 outbreaks of 10 or more employees at workplaces or worksites with more than 50 employees to L&I within 24 hours.
Employers can also rely on “COVID-19 Prevention in the Workplace” as additional guidance from L&I.
Guidance for events
The Governor’s office has posted guidance for fairs and special events, last updated April 26, 2021. The Washington Festivals and Events Association provides resources for event planners as well.
Construction eligible for vaccines
The entire construction industry became eligible for COVID-19 vaccines effective March 31. This includes everyone who works in the construction industry, including administrative staff.
You are no longer required to use the state’s online eligibility tool to provide proof of eligibility to get your vaccination. You can find vaccine appointments via the DOH Vaccine Locator site: VaccinateWA. Everyone over the age of 16 became eligible for the vaccine starting April 15, 2021.