Some Restrictions are Lifting for Vaccinated Workers

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries released a press release explaining the fewer requirements employers need to follow to protect employees from COVID-19. Read the press release below.


Updated COVID-19 Requirements for Employers as Washington State Reopens

Click to view L&I press release

Article provided by L&I. Last updated July 1, 2021. 

Businesses in Washington state are able to open at full capacity and have fewer requirements to follow to protect employees from COVID-19.

Both OSHA and L&I continue to recognize COVID-19 as a workplace hazard for unvaccinated individuals. Employers have an obligation to provide a safe and healthy workplace and assess the level of hazard to determine if additional steps should be taken to protect workers who are not fully vaccinated. Updated rules and guidance detail the changes employers need to know.


Employers must:

  • Ensure unvaccinated employees wear a mask while working indoors.
  • Verify vaccination status before lifting employee mask requirements, and be able to show the process used for verification.
  • Keep employees with possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19 from working around others.
  • Provide handwashing facilities and supplies.
  • Train employees to recognize and respond to workplace hazards, including COVID-19.
  • Assess recognized hazards, including COVID-19, as part of the ongoing requirement to provide a safe and healthful workplace and, where appropriate, take additional steps to protect unvaccinated employees.
  • Notify 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).
  • Report COVID-19 outbreaks of 10 or more employees at workplaces or worksites with more than 50 employees to L&I within 24 hours.


Masks and face coverings

  • Employers must provide cloth face coverings or a more protective mask to employees, free of charge, when use of a mask is required.
  • Employers may still require or encourage mask use, regardless of employee vaccination status.
  • Employees have the right to wear a mask or other protective equipment, regardless of their vaccination status, as long as it doesn’t create safety issues.


Industries where masks are still required for all workers 

  • Health care (long-term care, doctor’s offices, hospitals)
  • Public transportation (aircraft, trains, buses, road vehicles)
  • K-12 schools, childcare facilities and day camps in locations where children are or are expected to be present
  • Correctional facilities
  • Homeless shelters


Verifying worker vaccination status

Employers must be able to show the process used to verify employee vaccination status. They do not need to keep an actual copy of the employee’s vaccination records.

Acceptable types of verification include:

  • Vaccine card or photo of vaccine card.
  • Documentation from a health care provider.
  • State immunization information system record.
  • A hard copy or electronically signed self-attestation from the employee.



L&I’s COVID-19 guidance includes resources from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Department of Health (DOH) and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration: www.Lni.wa.gov/CovidSafety.

DOH Secretary of Health Order: www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/Secretary_of_Health_Order_20-03_Statewide_Face_Coverings.pdf



Social Distancing

Unvaccinated Workers Still Need to Follow DOSH Directive 1.70

Click to view DOSH Directive 1.70

Here is a snippet from DOSH Directive 1.70 on social distancing:

  1. Maintain at least 6 feet of spacing at all times.
    1. 6 feet of physical distancing, physical barriers, or other controls must be maintained between all workers who are not fully vaccinated or have not verified their vaccination status. Fully vaccinated workers do not need to maintain physical distancing except if working in the following business categories:
        1. Healthcare (including long-term care, doctor’s offices, hospitals)
        2. Public transportation (aircraft, train, road vehicles)
        3. K-12 Schools, childcare facilities, and day camps in locations where students are present
        4. Correctional facilities
        5. Homeless shelters
    2. Employers must continue to ensure 6 feet of physical distancing, physical barriers, or other controls are maintained between workers who are not fully vaccinated or have not verified their vaccination status and members of the public.



Note from the Approach Safety Team:



“It appears that the Governor has done away with all previous workplace guidance that was separated for various businesses. Now it’s all combined in this document. The biggest change we found was that all employees must update their Accident Prevention Program (APP) to include awareness and prevention measures for transmissible diseases and viruses.”

Governor’s Memo