COVID-19 & Construction

CURRENT STATUS OF CONSTRUCTION AND COVID-19

As of June 30, 2021, all industry sectors in Washington returned to usual capacity and operations, with limited exceptions for large indoor eventsJob 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 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.

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.

Private employer vaccine mandate

The U.S. Department of Labor published the details of the Biden Administration’s new federal vaccine mandate on Nov. 4. Developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the mandate will force all US employers with 100 or more employees to require all employees be vaccinated or undergo regular testing by Jan. 4.

On Nov. 18, Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans for Washington state to proceed with a vaccine mandate for private employers consistent with the federal mandate previously published by the federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Final rules and details are pending. But Inslee said the Washington state mandate, like the federal mandate, would require all employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations for their workers or weekly COVID-19 tests as a condition of employment.

The federal mandate is making its way through the courts. We expect a Washington state rule may also be challenged. While Inslee did not institute his vaccine mandate for private employers today, we expect to see more details soon.

NAHB recently published guidance for members to ready themselves for compliance.

Employer Guide to COVID-19 Vaccination ETS: Provided by HUB International Unlimited, this resource includes more details about the OSHA mandate, templates for compliance and more.

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.

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.

Updated: 11/8/2021